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Birmingham City Council heeds conservation warning

Birmingham City Council has promptly responded to the Victorian Society’s call to appoint a second conservation officer and is now advertising a vacancy.

Earlier this month the Victorian Society highlighted Birmingham’s ‘conservation crisis’ following a 86% fall in the number of conservation officers employed by Birmingham City Council over the last five years. Birmingham City Council has promptly responded to the Victorian Society’s call to appoint a second conservation officer and is now advertising a vacancy. The Society welcomes this move but remains concerned about the future of many historic buildings in Birmingham such as the Grade II*-listed Moseley Road Baths which the Council proposes to permanently close in September 2015, with no plans to either repair the building or to find alternative uses for it.

Currently, Birmingham City Council has just one conservation officer. Five years ago it had a team of seven. Following the Victorian Society’s warning of a ‘conservation crisis’ in Birmingham, the City Council is now advertising to fill a second conservation officer post which had been vacant for four months but had not been advertised.  

Stephen Hartland, Chair of the Victorian Society’s West Midlands Group said: ‘The Society welcomes Birmingham Council’s decision to advertise the vacant conservation officer position at a time when finding funding is extremely challenging. We look forward to working closely with whoever is appointed. However, even two conservation officers will find it difficult to properly carry out the Council’s statutory duty to protect the city’s 2,000 listed buildings and 30 conservation areas. The Society remains especially concerned about buildings such as Moseley Road Baths. This is a building of international importance, and the only Grade II*-listed working municipal swimming baths in the country. However, it is graded poor on English Heritage’s ‘At Risk’ register and, even more worryingly, the Council proposes to permanently close the baths in September 2015, and has no plans to either repair the building or to find alternative uses for it. As we have stated previously, in order to succeed Birmingham must be an attractive place to relocate to and invest in. Protecting our heritage helps to achieve this and ensures that the city’s mid-20th century planning mistakes are not repeated.’

Applications for the role of Principal Conservation Officer close on 30 November.

Thursday 20 November, 2014

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