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Urgent appeal made to the Secretary of State

The Victorian Society has written to the Culture Secretary, Ben Bradshaw urgently asking him to use his powers to create a Conservation Area in the heart of Clay Cross in Derbyshire.

There are plans to demolish three former schools in the town, two of which could go within days. They make up part of a group of six attractive, well-built historic buildings which are unlisted and unprotected.

Appealing to the Secretary of State is an unprecedented move. The Culture Secretary has the power to designate a Conservation Area over the heads of the local authority, but it has never been done. The Society believes that those powers must now be used or Clay Cross will lose a key part of its history.

The town grew rapidly from 1837 when the railway engineer and inventor of the Rocket, George Stephenson established George Stephenson and Company to exploit the rich seam of coal and iron deposits he had found there. Stephenson built houses and shops for his workers. His company also provided for the town's social and educational needs and it is these buildings and this history which is now at risk.

'Stephenson's company built a school off Market Street in 1854. Two more schools followed in 1884. Later the company built the Mechanics Institute and another school', said Alex Baldwin, Conservation Adviser for the Victorian Society. 'These buildings and a Victorian police station make up the historic core of Clay Cross. They are irreplaceable and their loss will be severely detrimental to the town.'

North East Derbyshire District Council has said it will consider designating a Conservation Area in the future, but does not have a Conservation Officer or the resources to do so at present. Miss Baldwin added, 'Unfortunately by the time they are able to consider it at least half the historic buildings in the area will have been demolished. We are calling on the Secretary of State to take action now'.

A Conservation Area would afford the buildings some protection from demolition as any regeneration plans would have to be seen to preserve or enhance the area.


Thursday 29 October, 2009

More recent item: Lincolnshire town hall saved from demolition
Earlier item: Urgent plea to stop demolition of historic brewery

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