Demolition starts on 'listed' building: A bureaucratic bungle means a Victorian complex in Kidderminster comprising two schools and a library is to be pulled down. Will Bennett reports
Wednesday 23 December 1992
Inside the 6ft-high (1.8 metres) barbed wire fence around the building, which has served the town in Hereford and Worcester for a century, they tore out the windows as local conservationists looked on angrily. When the demolition gangs have finished with the Victorian building, one of the few left in the town centre, it will become a car park until a new library is built on the site.
Earlier this year the library and the two schools, all part of the same complex, were granted Grade II listed status and the committee formed to save them believed the building was safe.
Then it was discovered that in 1988 the Department of the Environment had issued an immunity certificate to the building's owners, Hereford and Worcester County Council and a trust run by Wyre Forest District Council. This prevented the listing of the library and schools for five years. Such certificates ensure that developers can go ahead without fear of suddenly being blocked by a building being listed. Five days after the Kidderminster complex was granted protection it was stripped of its Grade II status.
Yesterday, the Department of National Heritage and English Heritage, which advises the Government on historic buildings, were embarrassed by the bungle which has allowed the county council to go ahead with demolition. A spokesman for the Department of National Heritage said that when the county council applied for the certificate in 1988, the Department of the Environment, then responsible for such matters, asked English Heritage for advice and was told that the building was not worth listing.
But when a local resident asked for it to be listed last year, Department of the Environment officials failed to notice that the certificate had been granted. They asked English Heritage for an opinion again. This time English Heritage said that the building was worth listing and in January Grade II status was granted briefly until the mistake was spotted. Immunity certificates cannot be overturned.
The Department of National Heritage said: 'We made a mistake and they changed their minds. It was our fault though, it was an administrative mistake.'
Andrea Kinghorn, of English Heritage, said: 'I think there is just a greater appreciation of this type of Victorian building now than there was a few years ago.'
Anthony Peers, assistant secretary of the conservation group Save, said: 'It has been proved to be of listed quality. There is obviously a lot of embarrassment at the department about this.'
John Cotterell, chairman of the Save the Old Schools Action Committee, said: 'It is one of a group of Victorian buildings which are the only substantial ones left in the town.'
However, Alec Mackie, the county council, spokesman said: 'We are going ahead because there is nothing to prevent it, and the joint owners have agreed to create a new library for Kidderminster.'
- 2 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 3 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 4 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 5 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
The one chart that shows how George Osborne is almost certainly going to be our next Prime Minister
The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
Wikipedia rocked by 'rogue editors' blackmail scam targeting small businesses and celebrities
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...
£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...