Damien Egan 10 February 2020

Give councils greater powers to protect local heritage buildings

From Victorian public houses to traditional shop fronts to art deco buildings, local authorities are home to a diverse mix of heritage assets that make up a central part of communities’ identities.

Lewisham alone is home to over 500 locally listed buildings of unique social, historical and architectural interest dating back as far as the seventeenth century. As this thriving inner London borough continues to grow and develop, it is vital that we preserve these heritage assets so that they can be enjoyed by current and future generations.

However, there have been a number of cases in Lewisham where we have lost locally significant buildings to developers due to a loophole in national planning legislation that limits local authorities’ ability to protect them. This is a challenge faced by councils across the country.

Only buildings that are nationally listed by Historic England are protected from permitted development rights for demolition, as are buildings within a conservation area. This means that if a developer owns a locally listed building or asset of community value and wants to demolish it, they do not require full planning permission from the local authority to do so. They only need to make a prior approval application for the method of demolition, which means the local authority can only consider how it is demolished, not whether it should be demolished at all.

That is why, along with national and local amenity societies, I have written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to strengthen planning protections for locally listed heritage assets and assets of community value.

Currently, if a council wants to remove permitted development rights from heritage assets and therefore require planning permission for demolition it has to introduce an Article 4 Direction. However, an immediate Article 4 Direction is subject to compensation claims from the landowner. This is a legally and financially risky approach for councils that have experienced a decade of budget cuts.

Local authorities are proud of their heritage and historic buildings but national planning legislation must be strengthened if we are to best protect them. Only by extending protections from permitted development rights for demolition to heritage assets and assets of community value, as they did for pubs in 2017, can the Government demonstrate it is truly committed to supporting local communities and championing local identity.

Damien Egan is Mayor of Lewisham

For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Assistant Director - Prevention and Service Development

North Yorkshire County Council
£86,252- £98,275 plus relocation support (up to £8,000)
Come and Join Team North Yorkshire! County Hall and around the county, including from home
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Principal Transport Development Planner

Suffolk County Council
£39,759 per annum (pro rata if part time)
A great opportunity to join the Suffolk County Council's Transport Strategy Team as a Principal Transport Development Planner. Suffolk County Council, Ipswich IP1 2BX
Recuriter: Suffolk County Council

Senior Manager - Asset and Network

Cheshire West & Chester
£56,593 - £62,792
This is a brand-new role developed out of our vision for the future of the recently established Transport and Highways directorate. Chester, Ellesmere Port, Winsford
Recuriter: Cheshire West & Chester

Provider Development Manager

North Yorkshire County Council
£50,183 - £58,379 plus relocation support (up to £8,000)
Come and Join Team North Yorkshire! County-wide – Hybrid
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Head of Integrated Care

North Yorkshire County Council
£60,567 - £69,001 plus relocation support (up to £8,000)
Come and Join Team North Yorkshire! North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.