(Destruction of) Local history, corner. In July I was horrified that the demolition of the only surviving historic building on the north east side of Aigburth Road was allowed. This is an area historically of large Victorian houses, with terraced streets opposite. At the back of one of the few remaining Victorian villas was a period old coach house, full of character. It was demolished on behalf of the Vinco Group property developers, with the permission of Liverpool City Council – the planning officers of Liverpool City Council recommended allowing it – and no objection from the country’s official conservation body, English Heritage. A ‘historic buildings adviser’ Peter de Figueiredo wrote the report in favour of demolition of this historic building. Local councillors made no representations, and only 5 local residents did (all objecting to the large scale development of the site). I suspect that virtually no resident of the Aigburth Road area had any idea that this vandalism was being proposed and would be waved through by the City Council, backed by a ‘heritage expert’ for hire, acquiesced at by the body supposed to protect England’s heritage. So that one of the few historic buildings in what is supposed to be a conservation area is now gone.
One resident objected to the proposed flats on the basis that they would be five storey in height, out of keeping with anything else in the area. That is correct and it is not considered in the Planning report at all. That could be because the planned block of flats on Aigburth Road was reduced in height (according to Figueiredo’s report) in a revised application “following discussions with the Council and Historic England.” The planning officials adopt a line of Historic England (did they used to be English Heritage?) “the location of the new building means that it will be read in the context of the surrounding modern structures, rather than the historic development along Alexandra Drive.” What this bizarrely points out is that demolishing an historic building (albeit one altered and with few original indoor features) will mean the new building will be read (on that side of the main road) in the context of other modern buildings. The fact the historic building was a feature and part of the cityscape seems lost on the heritage officials. My usual view that those tasked with conserving and celebrating Britain’s heritage care mostly about the large and very old, rather than smaller and newer or industrial, is reinforced. And that planning laws about conservation can usually be overcome if the developer and development is large enough, but not as often when commonsense is asked for in relation to individuals genuinely trying to do their best.