CRISIS AT MIDLAND HOTEL
Oliver Hill's Art Deco masterpiece is under threat following the recent collapse of proposals to restore the hotel.
In May, the future for the building, and with it the image of Morecambe, looked bright. A £10m refurbishment scheme had just started on site, a huge marketing exercise was underway, and a grand re-opening was planned for the spring of 2003. After years of relentless decline, the building had reached a turning point, and was to become a five star hotel, carefully restored, and promoted as the ultimate 1930s experience.
Today, it is
again abandoned, windows smashed, security fencing removed, the heating system
disabled, and vulnerable to the harsh storms of
This is the latest twist in the sad story of a building that inspires a particular affection and admiration nationwide. Opened in 1933, the Midland was built by the LMS Railway Company as an optimistic statement of modernism, and it put Morecambe on the map. But following wartime requisition, it suffered under a succession of unsuccessful owners, culminating in the farcical ‘guardianship’ of Les Whittingham, who arranged for the great Eric Gill stone relief of Odysseus Welcomed to the Sea by Nausica to ‘disappear’ on its return from an exhibition at the Barbican. It was finally rediscovered by police in Lincolnshire after a tip off around the time that Whittingham died in 1998.
Now rescue plans are under discussion once again. The HLF has allocated £1 million to the Midland under the Morecambe THI. Lancaster City Council, English Heritage, the NWDA, and the Friends of the Midland are working together to find a long-
term solution. And there is the immediate task of protecting the building against another winter.
Peter de Figueiredo, historic buildings inspector, English Heritage
The views expressed by contributors (including
the editor) do not necessarily represent those of the
Civil and council officers, from Nepal and Feltre in Italy, involved in the Asia -Urbs (Europe-Asia) Urban management and Economic Diversification Project, attended a World Heritage Seminar in Chester in June. The weeks events included a conference addressed by Donald Insall, Peter de Figueiredo (English Heritage) and Miss Minja Yang Deputy Director of World Heritage Centre, Paris. Delegates visited many historic sites in the North West and Wales, including existing and proposed World Heritage Sites.
The Royal George, Knutsford
A recent case of the Royal George, in Knutsford, has again highlighted the issue of pre-determination archaeological evaluations, as recommended in Planning Policy Guidance Note 16: Archaeology and Planning. Adrian Tindall, Principal Archaeological Officer at Cheshire County Council explains the significance of the case to other areas.
Archaeology had been a material consideration in planning since the 1980s, however, in 1990, the new PPG16 went further in emphasising:
· the need for archaeological policies in local plans,
· the desirability of preserving archaeological remains in situ,
· the importance of early consultation, and
· the need to assess their archaeological impact before planning applications are determined.
In the twelve years since its publication, PPG16 has led to some 400 archaeological projects being carried out in Cheshire.
In July 2001, an application for planning permission and listed building consent was submitted to Macclesfield Borough Council for conversion, alteration, partial demolition and extensions to the Grade II listed Royal George, on King Street, Knutsford. The former hotel occupies part of the east-facing frontage of King Street, the main route through the medieval borough.
Both the Royal George and its adjacent plot seemed likely to occupy the site of earlier medieval buildings, since the long narrow plots to the rear display the typical plan of medieval burgage plots. The site also lay within Knutsford’s Area of Archaeological Potential, as defined in the Macclesfield Local Plan and confirmed by the recently-completed Cheshire Historic Towns Survey.
In view of this, and in accordance with PPG16, the Borough Council was advised that the developer be required to commission an initial, desk-based archaeological assessment before the application was determined. This would identify any potential archaeological constraints to development and the need for any further archaeological work.
Unfortunately, this assessment was not carried out before the application went to the borough’s planning committee in November 2001. Ideally, in such circumstances, determination would have been refused or deferred in accordance with PPG16 Paragraph 22. However in the absence of this, the local planning authority was advised to attach the model condition provided by PPG16 Paragraph 30:
“No development shall take place until the applicant, or his agent or successors in title, has secured the implementation of a programme of archaeological work in accordance with a written scheme of investigation which has been submitted by the applicant and approved by the planning authority”.
This could be used to secure the previously-advised desk-based assessment, as well as any further archaeological work (field evaluation and mitigation) that the study may show to be necessary.
In the event, determination of the application was deferred, allowing time for the assessment to be carried out. The assessment concluded, perhaps unsurprisingly, that areas of potential archaeological importance survived across the less disturbed parts of the site, and recommended field evaluation of 5% of these areas. Again the advice was that this work be carried out prior to determination of the planning application. This is also entirely in accordance with PPG16 Paragraphs 21:
“Where early discussion with local planning authorities, or the developers’ own research, indicate that important archaeological remains may exist, it is reasonable for the planning authority to request the prospective developer to arrange for an archaeological field evaluation to be carried out before any decision on the planning application is taken.”
“Local planning authorities can expect developers to provide the results of (archaeological) assessments and evaluations as part of their application for sites where there is good reason to believe there are remains of archaeological importance…. and if necessary authorities will need to consider refusing permission for proposals which are inadequately documented.”
Again, it was recommended that, should planning permission be granted, the archaeological work be secured through the use of the model condition.
The reasons for using the model condition are purely pragmatic. Experience has shown that local planning authorities in Cheshire are often reluctant to require applicants to carry out pre-determination evaluation, and clearly feel more comfortable securing archaeological work through planning condition. Indeed, there have been cases where an insistence on pre-determination evaluation has led the LPA to overlook archaeology altogether, or formulate its own condition, rather than delay determination. This has, in turn, led to inadequate archaeological investigation (or none at all), with the resultant loss of important archaeological evidence. It is to prevent this, while expressing a clear preference for pre-determination evaluation, that LPAs are offered the fallback position of securing exploratory archaeological work through planning condition.
There are of course strong arguments against this approach.
1) where evaluation does not take place until after the planning application has been determined, the possibility of archaeological issues being fully taken into account in reaching the planning decision is lost. In other words, the site’s archaeology – however important - cannot influence the outcome of an application.
2) securing archaeological work through planning condition can, because it takes no account of the site’s archaeological potential, incur the developer in unexpected and unquantified archaeological costs.
3) there is often pressure on LPAs to discharge such conditions prematurely – thus placing at risk the post-excavation stages of the archaeological work.
In practice, of course, each application must be judged on its merits, and it must be accepted that in some cases the arguments for pre-determination evaluation are stronger than in others. However, both national planning guidance and local plan policy make it clear that, where there is a strong case for evaluation, there is an onus on local planning authorities to insist on such work being carried out before the application is determined. Only then can archaeological issues be set alongside other material considerations in reaching a planning decision.
Ironically, the evaluation at the Royal George, when eventually carried out, demonstrated that early archaeological deposits on the site had been almost entirely removed by later development – a question that might have been resolved had the work been commissioned some eight months earlier!
The case also raised the rather uncertain relationship between below- and above-ground archaeology in Cheshire. The County Council’s advice to the boroughs is restricted to below-ground archaeology, and it is assumed that the listed building issues will be addressed by the boroughs’ own conservation officers. However the distinction between above- and below-ground archaeology is becoming increasingly blurred, and is somewhat at odds with government advice, which regards the historic environment in an increasingly holistic way.
The government has set out its agenda for the future of the historic environment, both in the policy document The Historic Environment: A Force for Our Future and in the broader context of the Green Paper Planning: Delivering a Fundamental Change. These include proposals to develop County Sites and Monuments Records into comprehensive Historic Environment Records (HERs), and a commitment to review older PPGs such as PPG15 and PPG16 - the obvious implication being that they will be combined into a single PPG covering the whole of the historic environment.
Pre application evaluations are likely to be required in areas of archaeological potential. These areas have been identified for those towns where historic towns surveys have been completed (see NorthWest 3 p6). The conclusions of the historic towns’ surveys should be relayed to DC officers.
The Royal George evaluation was complete in 4 days and the written report in 3 weeks. If necessary, North West has been reliably informed this could have been condensed into 10 days. PH
Liverpool City Council and English Heritage, as well as organisations such as Liverpool Vision and the North West Development Agency, have joined forces to seek the nomination of Liverpool’s historic waterfront, commercial centre and cultural quarter as a World Heritage Site. The bid is separate but complimentary, from the City’s bid for Capital of Culture 2008,. The City Council and EH are also jointly funding a World Heritage Officer for four years to co-ordinate the nomination. World Heritage Officer John Hinchcliffe explains why.
Cultural heritage is not restricted to ancient civilisations and ancient buildings. The three latest cultural WHSs in the United Kingdom (declared in December 2001), were Saltaire in Bradford, The Derwent Valley Mills in Derbyshire and New Lanark in Scotland all pioneers, in their own way, of the Industrial Revolution. The awards acknowledge that from the late 18th Century until the early 20th Century, the United Kingdom was the foremost industrial nation in the world and has an industrial heritage, of unique international significance.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport have placed Liverpool on a tentative list of World Heritage Sites, describing it as the "supreme" example of a commercial port, which developed at the time of Britain’s greatest global influence. The proposed World Heritage Site is therefore based on the historic port, but is also likely to include the William Brown Street cultural quarter, an expression of civic pride, funded by profits from the port.
· The world’s first commercial enclosed wet dock was constructed in Liverpool in 1715,
· By the end of the 19th Century, there were 120 hectares of wet docks, 10 kilometres of fortress-like dock walls and a vast range of warehouses,
· Britain was the foremost industrial nation in the world and Liverpool conducted 1/3 of its export trade and ¼ of its import trade. Liverpool owned 1/3 of the total shipping of the United Kingdom and 1/7 of the total registered shipping in the world. Liverpool was amongst the 4 greatest ports in the world
· The docks were served by a commercial district of banks, exchanges, mercantile offices and insurance companies, unrivalled outside London. These were designed to impress and reached their peak with the showpiece ensemble at the Pier Head, intended to be one of the world’s greatest river frontages.
· Of the 5.5 million emigrants who crossed the Atlantic 1860-1900, 4.75 million sailed from Liverpool
· The great prosperity of 19th Century Liverpool was matched by a desire and ability to display civic pride, demonstrated by the construction of prestigious public buildings, notably St. George’s Hall. The monumental group of classical buildings around William Brown Street is one of the finest Victorian street scenes in the country.
Liverpool would benefit from World Heritage designation in a number of ways
· Liverpool’s historic importance and its surviving architectural interest would be acknowledged globally
· Liverpool would be a greater attraction for international tourism
· Liverpool would have an increased heritage status when bidding for national and international funding
· An effective management plan for the World Heritage Site would guide Liverpool’s continuing regeneration through conservation and help to achieve high quality design.
In order to secure the nomination of the WHS by the DCMS and its subsequent designation (known as inscription), it is necessary to prepare an assessment to convince UNESCO that the site is of outstanding universal value. A management plan is then required to demonstrate that the site will be properly cared for in the future. The management plan must recognise that Liverpool is a dynamic city undergoing a renaissance, and must not necessarily seek to prevent change. Rather, it should seek to ensure that the best of the site’s heritage assets are properly preserved and enhanced and that any new development is of an appropriate quality.
UNESCO advise that the participation of local people in the nomination process is essential to make them feel responsible for the maintenance of the site. A major publicity and consultation exercise has already started and initiatives are being undertaken to engage the community. The target date for submission of the nomination is 1st February 2003 and inscription (designation) should then follow in 2004.
Liverpool has led the World in many fields, not least in football and music, but of course there is so much more to Liverpool. The City Council, in partnership with English Heritage, aims to put Liverpool firmly on the map as an important place in world history and as an exemplar of regeneration through conservation.
World Heritage Officer 0151 233 5367 John.Hinchliffe@Liverpool.gov.uk
The Collegiate, Shaw Street, Liverpool
The Collegiate was designed by Harvey Lonsdale Elms, architect of Liverpool's St Georges Hall, and is listed Grade II*.
The school closed, in the mid 1980s after 140 years, following a fire in the octagonal theatre to the rear. A number of refurbishment schemes were suggested considered but none were considered viable. The building continued to deteriorate and in the early 1990s a second major fire destroyed the interior of the main building. By the mid 1990s its future was uncertain.
The work was completed in Autumn 2001 and the building was formally opened with 50% of the 96 apartments sold.
The Collegiate is acting as a catalyst for the regeneration of the area. Liverpool Hope University College is about to commence work on Phase IV of their Everton Campus and Riverside Housing Association has invested in the refurbishment of the Georgian terrace opposite. A local developer is about to restore the adjacent former Particular Baptist Chapel.
The Matchworks, Speke Road, Liverpool
The conversion and restoration of the former Bryant and May match factory by Speke/Garston Development Company (SGDC) and Urban Splash presents a stunning frontage to Speke Road.
The building was designed by architects' Mews & Davies in the early 1920's, the design adapted from the American automotive industry, utilising pioneering "flat slab" construction. The design of the sleek and elegant interior is credited to the engineer Sven Bylander. Elements of the building are now listed Grade II.
The scheme was developed in two phases, Phase I, completed 18 month ago, provided 40,000sq ft of light industrial space for various local businesses to the rear of the site. Phase II, which addressed the listed frontage building, was recently completed and has provided 66,000sq ft of refurbished office space.
The ground floor was converted into 6 separate "pavilions" each with their own front door and a new mezzanine floor. On the upper floor, approximately 40,000sq ft, was identified as a large floor plate for a large single (B1) office user. To the rear, six contemporary "service pods" have been constructed. Works were completed in August 2001 and within a few months of completion all the space has been let to B1 office space users.
This project is a key example of the public/private partnership that has been responsible for regenerating the area. The SGDC and the Speke Garston Partnership have successfully transformed the economy of this once depressed part of Liverpool and soon there will be more people working in the complex than when it was a match factory.
Principal Conservation Officer
Liverpool City Council, Regeneration - Planning & Building Control
0151 233 5678
Photographs courtesy of Speke/Garston Development Company
Hakes Associates were recipients of an RIBA Award for their bold but sympathetic alterations to the Grade II listed barn at Wycoller. Located in the shadow of the Pennines, the barn is a medieval timber framed aisled structure built upon on stone walls The refurbished barn provides exhibition and museum facilities, with display space being provided along a free-standing metal wall, containing glass sections lit from within. The wall hides a long ramp that provides access to a modern curved pod: a heated kiosk, for an attendant. A stage has also been provided and the scheme considerably improves access for disabled persons.
The new insertions are all prefabricated, free standing and placed on stilts. The stilts are to avoid flooding (as the barn is located in a narrow valley) but also has the benefit of retaining the cobble and flagstone floor. The scheme complies with English Heritage's guidelines on the conversion of historic farm buildings by maintaining the spacious open interior of the barn, and utilising only existing and previous openings.
NorthWest spoke to Rosemary Lyons of Pendle Borough Council.
Photographs: Hakes Associates
RIBA Housing Design Awards
The occasion of the Commonwealth Games has triggered a pilot study looking at the contribution Manchester has made to the nations sporting history.
Manchester was chosen because of its huge wealth of sporting facilities however only a small part of this heritage enjoys any statutory protection.
The study began in January 2002 and culminated in a major conference in June.
The aim of the study is to encourage wider debate on the future of England's sporting heritage.
Opinion polls carried out by EH indicate that a large majority of people attach great significance to both past events and former sport venues.
However sporting clubs and local authorities are under constant pressure from users and regulatory bodies to upgrade facilities.
To avoid the inadvertent loss EH are looking to develop a framework for understanding the relative importance of sporting structures.
EH then intend to explain to the relevant sporting bodies how that information can be best used, balancing the needs of a particular sport against the wider historical importance of the ground or facility.
Among several ideas being considered is the preservation of a stranding terrace at an English football or rugby club.
North West spoke to Malcomb Cooper of English Heritage. He advised that there are few immediate implications for local planning authorities. However, guidelines are due to be published by English Heritage and Sport England before the end of the current financial year. The guidelines are unlikely to recommend wholesale listing or scheduling, but are likely to encourage greater recognition being given to the influence of sporting heritage on the character of communities. Therefore the presence of sporting facilities may become increasingly important when preparing conservation area appraisals.
Additional initiatives may include the creation of a sports heritage trust to look after certain ground and facilities and the possible extension of versions of the blue plaque scheme to illustrate the heritage of local sporting heroes.