Monday, 23 January 2017

Locally Listed Heritage Assets: and deliberate neglect of the Drill Hall

Local heritage assets have to be considered by local authorities:
Futures Forum: Locally Listed Heritage Assets: report for East Devon

But there are all sorts of issues lurking:
Futures Forum: Locally Listed Heritage Assets: and demolition

Including 'deliberate neglect' - although how 'deliberate' any neglect is might be difficult to determine. The government has given some guidance:

What is meant by the conservation and enhancement of the historic environment?

The conservation of heritage assets in a manner appropriate to their significance is a core planning principle. Heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource and effective conservation delivers wider social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits.

Conservation is an active process of maintenance and managing change. It requires a flexible and thoughtful approach to get the best out of assets as diverse as listed buildings in every day use to as yet undiscovered, undesignated buried remains of archaeological interest.

In the case of buildings, generally the risks of neglect and decay of heritage assets are best addressed through ensuring that they remain in active use that is consistent with their conservation. 

Ensuring such heritage assets remain used and valued is likely to require sympathetic changes to be made from time to time. In the case of archaeological sites, many have no active use, and so for those kinds of sites, periodic changes may not be necessary.


130. Where there is evidence of deliberate neglect of or damage to a heritage asset the deteriorated state of the heritage asset should not be taken into account in any decision.
Looking at the Drill Hall, 

a 'controversial' building on Sidmouth's seafront, the District Council's conservation department already seem to consider it a Local Heritage/Non-designated Asset as, in the recommendation for refusal of the planning application to demolish it in October 2012, they say:

‘It is conceded that the building is in a poor state of repair. No structural report has been produced to confirm its structural integrity and therefore there may be potential for its adaption and re-use. Policy 130 of the NPPF advocates that the condition of a heritage asset should not be taken into account in any decision if the cause has been deliberate neglect. The reasons for the condition of the building are not known but since it has not been well-maintained in recent years should not necessarily be justification for its demolition. I would also advocate that evidence is presented to demonstrate that alternative uses have been sought and suitably dismissed.

PROVISIONAL RECOMMENDATION - PROPOSAL UNACCEPTABLE unless a cogent case can be presented for demolition.’

12/2262/CAC | Demolition of former drill hall building | Former Sidmouth Drill Hall The Esplanade Sidmouth

Meanwhile, Historic England, although refusing to list the Drill Hall as a national heritage asset, had nevertheless stated that it was an asset to the conservation area:
Heritage Gateway - Results

Interestingly, it also says the local interest of the Hall is reflected by its inclusion in a conservation area and as such it is recorded by DDC under HER number MDV106723

For more information on the heritage of the Drill Hall, see:
Sidmouth Drill Hall Research Site

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