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What’s the point of conservation areas again?

Locally listed, in a conservation area but at risk of demolition

Image courtesy Google street view

The threatened former Victorian vicarage was built in 1858. It stands on Newcastle Street, Burslem, Staffordshire, in a designated conservation area. Its owner, pottery giant Steelite, wants to demolish it to build an extension to its nearby factory. But the former vicarage is a locally listed building, one which the council itself has labelled a 'key component' of the area's history.

'The building's proposed demolition flies in the face of the recent huge investment in Burslem's heritage,' said James Hughes, Conservation Adviser for the Society. 'On top of which it would deprive the area of a building the council itself deems historically significant'.

Since 2007 the Townscape Heritage Initiative in Burslem has seen the city council, Advantage West Midlands and the Heritage Lottery Fund invest, or plan to invest, over £4 million in historically significant streets and buildings. This is to provide greater protection for the town's heritage, with the aim of making Burslem a centre for heritage tourism within the Potteries.

The Heritage Lottery Fund even paid for work in 2008 on the historic former vicarage that its owner now wants to demolish.

'It seems crazy to use lottery money on a heritage building then raze it to the ground barely five years later,' adds James. 'We shouldn't be celebrating the town's history on the one hand while knocking down historic buildings in conservation areas.'

The Society is urging the council to reject Steelite's plans and retain the vicarage as part of the area's heritage.

Thursday 8 November, 2012

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