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Highways Office, Fartown, Huddersfield

Prior approval for the demolition of a Council owned Victorian building in Kirklees:

I can not find any information on the former use of this building. It appears in the earliest historical maps of Huddersfield, but is unlabelled. I would love to know more about it before it is pulled down.

This is an industrial street with buildings of a variety of ages, this being the oldest. The application does not indicate why Kirklees Council are demolishing the building. While it appears to still be in use, and remains a robust structure, for some reason the disposal of this public asset requires a site clearance. Wouldn’t it be easier to sell it as seen? At least then a buyer may well look to repurpose it.

The building is delightful, with a double front facing gable separated by a tall chimney. The detailing is appropriately modest, with ornate iron weather veins on the ridges.

This falls within permitted development, so the Council’s development control officers have no planning control. However it would be unlikely they would refuse one of their own applications even if they did have the power.


Former Huddersfield Technical College

Application from 2018 finally determined:

Thankfully the main portico building will not be lost to this development (which looks to be predominantly surface carparking). However the latter elements of the stone building are to be lost, including the linking tower from 1876. The entire building benefits from a Grade II* listing, however this has tacitly only applied to what was the 1831 Infirmary building.

The original Infirmary building, shown with the 1876 extension to the right, including the linking tower which will be demolished

The bulk of the campus to be lost dates from 1932, and hints towards an art deco character. The building fronting Halifax Road is from earlier (circa 1901), and boasts an excellent mansard roof, the loss of which will be regrettable for Huddersfield.

It is a shame that the towers and the 1901 block couldn’t be negotiated for, as they are stunning buildings that establish a strong urban grain in this part of the Town Centre.

The new supermarket will be a stark contrast with the ornate civic character of the college. The apartments to the north laudably address the street frontage. However, the contrasting architecture of the buildings my result in the Old Infirmary appearing as an awkward relic.

It is also frustrating that this approval has suddenly appeared 4 years after the original application. It will be quite a shock to the people of Huddersfield to see this quarter being suddenly torn up.

The art deco (ish) elevation facing Portland Street, which will be lost

ABC Cinema, Wakefield

Demolition notice for an art deco cinema in Wakefield City Centre:

Derelict for 20 years now, it feels as though this cinema has weathered numerous attempts on it’s life over the years. In all honestly I didn’t actually realise it was still standing. Beloved locally to the extent that it has its own Facebook group, demolition is now looking inevitable. All the sake of another surface car park.

Plans for car park will finally spell end of Wakefield's ABC Cinema saga |  Wakefield Express
Wakefield Cinema

It is important to remember that cinemas can only ever be of relatively recent built history, and the small town centre theatres are the first wave of this vital part of modern history. This cinema is of no striking architectural merit, aside from the art deco ordering and rotunda-esque massing. However in terms of social meaning, the arrival of a cinema in Wakefield marks the start of modernity in this provincial city.

And imagine having the civic foresight to actually integrate a cinema building into the existing townscape, rather than building one on the settlement edge, preferably next to a motorway junction, drive through restaurant, and a concrete prairie of car parking.

Easy to convert to a multitude of uses, and no reason to expend a million tons of carbon redeveloping the site. Why not retain it and let the ABC cinema become rightfully historic?

St Mary’s hospital, Leeds, demolished by stealth

Another application to demolish more of the St Mary’s hospital campus in Armley, Leeds:

The iconic principle elevation of the hospital.

A couple of months ago, I posted about another wing of this hospital being demolished. At that time, there wasn’t much remonstration due to the retention of the main hospital building featured here. Now that wing is for the chop, it is clear that the entire hospital is to be lost, incrementally, to avoid drawing the ire of conservationists.

The mental health hospital occupies the former Bramley Union Workhouse of 1862, shown in the map above. The historical importance of this building goes without saying. A stunning building with a beautiful tower capturing the humble elegance so many Victorian public institution buildings imbibe.

No statutory protection results in the demolition prior approval going through the planning system unprotested. In the officers report, the council acknowledge the buildings to be ‘considered to form non-designated heritage assets’. This should be enough to remove PD rights via article 4, and avoid the demolition.

I hazard that this could never happen due to the asset belonging to the local NHS trust, and being part of a wider asset strategy, which will involve selling some land, and down buying sites elsewhere, undoubtedly which has been programmed in for years. Interference from the planning department on such matters is just not the done thing.

And its not as if there is an exponentially increasing demand for mental health services or anything like that.

Leeds General Infirmary

Demolition is to commence of the Former Nurses Homes at the Leeds General Infirmary:

I genuinely thought Leeds City Council would manage to negotiate the retention of the more ornate portions of this building.

I had personaly campaigned to get some of the building included in the revised listing of the hospital campus. Unfortunately, this was not to be, and we will unecessarily lose a stunning bricked frontage in the city centre, to be replaced by an elevation that does not relate to the street.

The buildings existing in 1921. Those highlighted on the aerial below could easily be retained.

It has been a highly emotive dialogue, and a lot of ire has been directed at the conservation lobby for valuing heritage over childrens hospital facilities. Social provisions for vulnerable children are vital and I can see why the citizenry of Leeds decried any motion that could prejudice the arrival of this new facility. However, I have always reasoned that both requirments could be satisfied with adequate design skills. The decision being made at plans panal, I can not imagine any of the politicians voting would risk the optics associated with questioning the delivery of a new childrens hospital.

It is also concerning that Heritage England and The Victorian Society fully objected to the loss of these buildings, and their consultation appears to have been given no weight in the decision. Heritage England also showed concern for the presidence this sets – should other hospital buildings be deemed redundant, will they also be lost?

The last point I should make is directed towards the architects, Golling Dod. When every other actor in this process has overlooked the potential to retain the hertiage buildings it is almost understandable, with hospotal delivery being an excerise in balance sheets. But the design professionals tasked with making the most of this site should be tabling a strategy that demonstrates how heritage can be integrated into a new facility, and add value to proposals. It was encumbant on the architects here to offer a creative and inspiring concept. Instead we have a design that is wholly generic. Reflection is needed.

Fountains Hall, Bradford

Plans to demolish what’s left of this grade II listed building:

Fountain Hall Bradford

Sad to see this former Friend’s Meeting House in such a state of ruin following a fire around 25 years ago. Listed as an example of bold civic-mindedness by Victorian Quakers, the building was clearly sited to make a statement in the centre of this mercantile city.

If some miraculous civic benefactor could summon £10 million, with no illusions of a return on investment, then yes it would be fantastic to salvage this building. But of all the buildings I’ve longed to see saved, this one is undoubtedly the most unlikely.

Nonetheless, it would have been great to see the new development integrate the Victorian facade into a new scheme. Such a postmodern visual gesture would convey a deep reverence to (and investment in) the heritage, whilst segueing into a renewed identity of the city as the ’20s come around for the second (…or twentieth?) time.

Old Coroner’s Court, Sheffield

Demolition notice submitted to Sheffield to demolish the stunning Coroner’s Court in Sheffield:

Old coroners courtNew coroners court sheffied

A complex and unfathomable series of events has resulted in the green light given to knock this beautiful and historic building down to ‘slab level’. The machinations surrounding the redevelopment of the site are detailed in this excellent piece in the Sheffield Star:

Last year pressure from local heritage groups managed to delay the demolition and redevelopment of the site, with Firestone Developments withdrawing their application. Sadly, even the most novice of planning consultants can advise that demolishing a building does not require consent, and this is the strategy to adopt if you encounter pesky militant locals.

A loss or Sheffield, particularly in an area that is attempting to regenerate itself. Heritage is always key to regeneration. To be cynical, the branding of a new urban quarter requires tangible historic context and this is a lesson developers need to learn.

Joseph Nutter House, Bradford


Application to demolish former public building in Horton Park, Bradford:

Joseph Nutter 1

Built by Victorian philanthropy, this orphanage was gifted to the city in an expression of civic pride in 1888. The building has latterly become a college, retaining its status as a public building in Bradford. The turrets and ramparts make for unique elevations, and the building is vital to the context of the surrounding parkland.

This article in the Telegraph and Argus captures the incredulous response so many have felt upon seeing this application go in.

Objections from the Bradford Civic Society, the Victorian Society, and many members of the public show how meaningful this building is to the people of Bradford and West Yorkshire.

Echoing the words of the Civil Society, there is no evidence that the building is in a state of disrepair. It is not enough to claim a vacant building is a risk to safety or a magnet for anti-social behavior. This spurious statement seems to be an increasing generic line fed to planners from the consultants’ playbook.

I hope Heritage England can expedite a spot listing over the next couple of weeks before a determination, and foil Mr Mohammad Farid’s plans.

Wibsey Park Lodge, Bradford

Retrospective permission to flatten Wibsey Park Lodge in Bradford:

Wibsey Park Lodge.JPG

Disgraceful practice by Mr N Rahim. Nobody in the development industry is unaware that demolition requires planning permission. Yet he went ahead and cleared this beautiful and historic park lodge. Mr Rahim weighed up his choices, and knowing the council will only give him a cursory slap on the wrist, he can now go on and make his money from 4 detached houses without the need for an expensive and protracted development control process.

A delightful building with a tall red brick chimney contrasting with the slate and stone of the house. Victorian Parks need their lodges to make sense of their history. If only the council would enforce their legislation and make him rebuild it brick by brick. Set and example. At the very least, I dare Bradford Council to refuse permission for the development of the site.

As it turns out however, the building was sold to Mr Rahim by Bradford Council in the first instance. Interesting. I hope everyone is reading between those very obvious lines and arriving at the same conclusions I have.


Bingley Science and Technical School

Plans to demolish Bingley Science and Technical School:


Image result for Bingley Science and Technical School


Bradford Council have been forced to sell this handsome building following an extensive marketing campaign which have proved unsuccessful in finding a new tenant.  Interestingly a covenant attached to the building states it must only be used for local educational purposes. A very noble Victorian ambition indeed, however this clause could be the death knell of the school, as this imposed flexibility precludes a potential conversion to housing.

The Victorians and their institutions, slowly dismantled as civic society is subjected to the bottom line.

Couldn’t the free school movement have snapped this up from the council? I’m sure a peppercorn price could have been negotiated with a community group intent on setting up a free school for the sake of saving the building. This is near Ilkley after all.