Heritage and the Climate Crisis: April 2022 News

News and publication highlights relating to Heritage and the Climate Crisis from across the month of April.

Across the month of April, the M&S store has been hitting headlines yet again as the project was given the go ahead to yet again by stalled. There has also been some great news of listings and successful funding, as well as the publication of our latest Case Study.

News from Heritage Declares

Our next meeting is being held Thursday 12th May at 5pm-6pm, join through the link here. We’d love to see more people!

We are also starting to update our Case Studies page on the website, thank you for all the submissions so far! If you have any case studies you’d like to send us, please email us here.

This month, volunteer coordinators David Garrard and Emma Healey also delivered a talk on Heritage Declares in the context of the climate crisis to a group of University of York masters students which was a success. If you’d be interested in having a Heritage Declares talk on your university course or as a company CPD session, please email us here. We’d love to spread our message!

M&S Oxford St demolition halted

The latest in the M&S store saga is Communities Secretary Michael Gove has blocked Pilbrow & Partners’ plans to demolish and rebuild Marks & Spencer flagship Oxford Street store so his department can examine the scheme. This came just days after London Mayor Sadiq Khan decided that the project could proceed despite concerns over the loss of embodied carbon. Read more about the halting of the scheme here.

If you want to know more about the background of the M&S building and why the controversial scheme appears to be causing so much controversy amongst politicians, read this useful summary in the Architect’s Journal.

Iraq’s cultural and natural heritage is being impacted by climate change

The minaret of the Great Mosque of Samarra is being eroded by sandstorms. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Rising concentrations of salts in groundwater and more frequent sandstorms, both caused by climate change, are having significant impacts upon historic buildings in Iraq. As this article explains: Salt crystallization is having a detrimental effect upon the remains of Babylon’s palaces. The spiral minaret of the Great Mosque of Samarra is being eroded by sandstorms whilst sites such as Umm al-Aqarib with its White Temple, palace and cemetery are being swallowed up by the desert. The Sawa Lake, once known as the Pearl of the South, has dried up and it is feared the exposed ground will become another source of sandstorms.

Heritage Declares Case Study: Low Carbon Adaptation of Agricultural Buildings in West Dorset

Photo credit: James Verner

Heritage Declares signatory and volunteer, James Verner, has designed the adaptation of two unused, adjacent agricultural barns on a farmstead in West Dorset for reuse as a single residential dwelling with office space and a space for social gatherings.

The aim of the project was to provide a viable use for two redundant agricultural buildings with the minimum embodied and operational carbon emissions. Find out more about the project here.

Places of Worship and the Climate Crisis

This month saw a successful #HeritageChat take place on Twitter on the topic of Places Of Worship. One issue addressed was how places of worship can combat the climate crisis . In light of this, we’d like to share a few resources that were showcased in the chat.

Firstly the Fundraising for Net Zero Carbon and the Environment page on the Church of England’s website. This has lots of helpful resources on how to get started with funding for Net Zero Carbon projects.

Secondly is the Church of England guide to Solar Panels which helps to guide whether solar panels are a good option and how to assess them within the planning balance.

SAVE Press Release: Departing Stores, Emporia at Risk

SAVE’s new report written by Harriet Lloyd sheds light on crisis facing Britain’s beautiful department stores. With the change of shopping patterns, combined with closures fueled by the pandemic many of our large ‘cathedrals of commerce’ are facing closure and many stand empty, facing threats of demolition. The SAVE report calls for a change in mindset and emphasises the need to rethink these spaces, rescuing and reinventing them for the 21st century. Read more on the report here.

Has demolition and replacement had its day?

Perhaps an understanding of embodied carbon is encouraging property developers to think twice before deciding to: ‘knock it down and start again.’

The Green Building Council calculates that the construction of buildings is responsible for 11% of global energy related carbon emissions. As operational emissions decrease due to better energy efficiency and grid decarbonisation, the emissions required to erect buildings is coming into sharper focus.

As well as the adaptive reuse of heritage buildings – such as an London ice factory being refitted for mixed use office/retail space – property owners are increasingly keen to demonstrate their environmental credentials to prospective tenants. Read more here.

Temple Works Egyptian-style landmark mill in Leeds gets £1m boost 

Historic illustration of the roof of the Temple Works Flax Mill where sheep would graze on grass grown to maintain humidity in the building in Victorian times.

Urgent repair works on an empty Egyptian-inspired Victorian flax mill in Leeds have received more than £1 million in grant funding from the Culture Recovery Fund and Historic England. The Holbeck landmark, unused for 20 years and listed Grade I, has been awarded a grant to ensure it is watertight before refurbishment is carried out to enable it to become a potential contender as a home for the British library in Leeds.

The mill, once claimed to be the largest indoor space in the world, was lit from above by natural light flooding through conical rooflights in a grass covered roof (to maintain the humidity required to ensure the flax remained pliant) and grazed by sheep. One of what is estimated to be 230 vacant and under-used mills in Yorkshire, its revitalization is part of Historic England’s ambition to improve environmental sustainability and unlock the potential of these historic buildings. Read more about the funding here.

Former Nottingham Debenhams store given listed status

The building on the corner of Long Row and Market Street. Photograph: Patricia Payne

The BBC reports that the former Debenhams store, which started life on the corner of long Row and Market Street in 1846 as a draper’s shop, has been listed Grade II by DCMS on Historic England’s advice.

Hugh Shannon, Historic England’s listing adviser, said the building defines the character of Nottingham’s commercial core as well as holding significant memories for the populace.

Identifying Opportunities for Integrated Adaptive Management of Heritage Change and Transformation in England: A Review of Relevant Policy and Current Practice

Gibside, Tyne & Wear © Caitlin DeSilvey

This research report, for Historic England, summarises the policy, guidance and statutory frameworks that might enable decision making in the historic environment to accommodate the dynamic transformation of a heritage asset and its associated significance in the context of intensifying environmental drivers of change.

It was produced as part of the Landscape Futures and the Challenge of Change project (2020-2021). It asks if the heritage sector’s presumption in favour of the preservation of fabric against the natural processes of decay, erosion and ecological colonisation is always the best one, especially in cases when such interventions are demonstrated to offer limited benefits. Therefore, and if there is no optimum viable use for an asset, might use be found in the ‘iterative monitoring’ of the effect of natural processes, perhaps requiring enhanced public access and engagement. Though changes to fabric due to adaptive release will erode designated values, other values may emerge, alongside gains for biodiversity.

Such an approach requires landscape scale thinking and the integration of natural and cultural heritage – an approach that may well be required as it has been shown that 80% of assets on the national Heritage List for England will be considered to be at a high level of risk by the second half of this century due to the impacts of environmental processes aggravated by climate driven hazards.

Continued Call for Papers: Global Climate Change and Built Heritage

The Built Heritage Journal is calling for papers on its latest issue ‘Global Climate Change and Built Heritage’. This special issue aims to collate current research into the complex relationship between climate change and built heritage. Papers may include the following topics, but not limited to:

  • The impact of the continued use of built heritage on climate change
  • The impact of climate change on built heritage
  • Learning from the Past
  • Built heritage and environmental justice

The issue is being guest edited by Heritage Declares coordinator Dr Chris Whitman and his colleagues at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University. Abstracts are to be sent to built-heritage@tongji.edu.cn to by 29th July 2022.

Any thoughts?

Have you got any thoughts on the April News on Heritage and the Climate Crisis? Or suggestions for the May post? Leave them in the comments below or tweet us @HeritageDecl

One thought on “Heritage and the Climate Crisis: April 2022 News”

  1. Hello,
    ARocha’s Eco-congregation is a framework for churches going greener.
    Providing reference topics as a methodology, widely used especially in Southwark Diocese
    where their earlier SCARE project was led by David Shreeve.
    Best wishes, Colin.

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