The idea of demolishing a listed building may sound absurd, especially as the essential purpose of a building being listed is to preserve and protect.
But there have been occasions where it has happened. Most recently the B listed, 18th Century Whitehall House, a stately home within the Scottish Borders has been given the go ahead for demolition after failing to sell for £1! Its eroding condition would cost around £1.2 million in repairs.
Back in my first year of my planning degree we looked at 2-8 St. Andrew Square, Edinburgh. A 1960’s designed B listed office block, the building lay vacant for many years due to the varying floor heights, and awkwardly shaped rooms being undesirable and inconvenient. When we asked passers-by on their view of the building, responses ranged from being an ‘eye-sore’ to ‘unique and interesting’. However by the end of 2014 demolition took place for the redevelopment of a grade A prime office block.
Historic Scotland have a guidance note which includes photos of listed buildings which have been demolished, as well as those were consent was refused and there was successful redevelopment.
Not all listed buildings have a capacity to be saved due to risk to public safety or the lack of financial viability and obviously demolition was not the first sought out action in either case. However it is understandable that if a listed building is uninhabitable due to poor condition and or is merely not functional or desirable to the market that demolition can be viewed as a necessary action in comparison to the alternative. Therefore should there not be a greater level of understanding and acceptance rather than sparks of anger in these scenarios?
By Kieran Shafiq, part of the team providing legal services in planning and environment issues.
On August 6, 2015