Letter:Sheffield's Parkhill flats failed and should not be listed

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The Independent Online
Roy Hattersley's article "Time to knock them down" (8 September), raises yet again the whole issue of the criteria for listing modern buildings.

The change in the public and professional response to Victorian architecture in the last 30 years illustrates that if we wait until buildings are (say) 60 or 100 years old, many will have been demolished which shouldn't have. My own town of Bradford is a good example.

The cycle of development is much shorter now and decisions about listing need to be taken when buildings are only 30 or 40 years old. Modern buildings therefore have to be listed and the healthy and open debate which is taking place about it is to be welcomed.

Turning to Sheffield's Parkhill, however. When this was built in the 1950s, it was considered a very forward-looking way of replacing the insanitary Victorian slums. Many young planners and architects visited it and looked in awe at the "streets in the sky". The development certainly went through a short honeymoon period when it was considered to be a success. However, for a whole variety of political and social reasons this did not last long. For most of its life it has been considered a failure both professionally and, more importantly, as a place to live. While the criteria for listing modern buildings should include follies designed as such, it should not include failures.

David Morton

Royal Town Planning Institute

London, W1

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