Heritage and the Climate Crisis: January News 2022

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

Whilst we try and spread some positivity in our monthly news, again through the month of January the headlines have been dominated by some high profile proposed demolitions, this time outside of London with demolitions of 20th century buildings proposed in Conway and Harrogate. Alongside this, there has been some interesting thought pieces on VAT and new builds as well as a new report published on the high profile M&S demolition on Oxford Street, see the Heritage Declares news highlights below.

Proposed demolition of Harrogate’s 1902 former Debenhams department store

An application has been submitted for the demolition of Harrogate’s 1902 former Debenhams department store on Parliament Street. The proposals would see the building demolished and replaced by 50 high-end apartments and two commercial units. Objections have been raised by Historic England and SAVE Britain’s Heritage questioning the lack of clear or adequate justification for demolition or analysis of refurbishment or retrofitting within the proposals. Read more here.

What if we didn’t build a single new building in 2022?

The most sustainable buildings are the ones already in existence. This article gives an American perspective on the adaptive, reuse projects in the context of the Climate Crisis, as well as some interesting takeaways when we consider new build projects. Read the full article here.

Max Fordham passes away

Acclaimed engineer and pioneer of sustainable building design, Max Fordham, passed away at the beginning of the month aged 88. Read his obituary here.

Demolition of Art Deco Cinema Rejected

In positive news, the demolition of a Grade C-listed Art Deco Cinema in Edinburgh has been rejected as “The application does  not demonstrate that the proposals to undertake substantial demolition will not damage the special architectural and historic interest of the listed building.” Read more here.

Roman toilet seat found in Peatlands, credit Vindolanda.

Climate Change Threatening buried UK Treasures

The changing weather patterns as a result of climate change are drying our some peatlands, waterlogged soils which cover about 10% of the UK. As peatlands contain very little oxygen, it is the perfect environment to preserved materials such as wood, leather and textiles which do not rot. As a result of more oxygen entering the peatland system, these materials are now at threat of an accelerated rate of decomposition. Read more here.

Art Deco building in Conwy to be demolished

Conwy Council’s planning committee has voted by nine votes to three in favour of demolishing an art deco house in Conwy. Read more about the decision here. C20 Society campaigned and objected to the proposals alongside locals to no avail despite no evidence being given to support claims of the building being unrepairable. However, the C20 Society are urging the council to reconsider the application, more info here.

Scrapping VAT on repairs would ease the housing crisis

At Heritage Declares, we are continually calling for VAT to be scrapped for repairs and retrofit. This article in The Times, considers the benefits of scrapping VAT on repairs rather than contemplating cutting VAT on energy. Read the full article here.

M&S Store comparison, credit: Mail Online

New report blasts bulldoze and rebuild plan for M&S Oxford Street HQ

SAVE Britain’s Heritage commissioned sustainability and carbon expert Simon Sturgis to produce a report on the M&S proposals on Oxford Street. Read more about the original decision in our November News. The report finds that the proposals do not comply with the UK Government’s net zero legislation to reduce carbon emissions or the Greater London Authority’s stated policy to prioritise retrofit. Read more about the report here. Sign the petition to stop the demolition here.

New RIBA Publications on the Adaptive Reuse of Historic Buildings

RIBA have recently published three new publications on the adaptive reuse of historic buildings: Sustainability Past and Future Guide, International case studies and UK Case studies. These are a useful free resource to aid built heritage professionals and clients to take an informed approach to sustainability-focused interventions in existing buildings. If you are interested and want to know more, the guide and case studies available here.

Join the London Gasketeers in their fight to save London’s Historic Working Gas Lamps

Westminster Council intended to remove 300 historic working gas lamps, to replace them with fake replicas powered by LED light. The London Gasketeers are building a community to work to save London’s historic gas lamps. The council were targeting 160 unlisted lamps first- in Covent Garden & Westminster. However, thanks to the London Gasketeers, work has halted, read more here. At Heritage Declares, we champion repair, regular maintenance to protect our historic buildings and their fittings and fixtures as the most sustainable approach. Whilst we understand the eco-friendly credentials of LED lamps, an approach to sustainability should be proportionate. Does the amount of gas used by these lamps outweigh the carbon used in making new, replacement lamps? We encourage you to follow the London Gasketeers on Instagram and Twitter to find out more.

ACAN lodge petition to Limit the Carbon Footprint of Construction

The carbon footprint of new buildings and infrastructure accounted for around 20% of the UK’s overall carbon emissions in 2020. ACAN have created a petition petition to ask the UK government to introduce legislation to limit the carbon footprint of construction now, through changes to The Building Regulations and National Planning Policy. We encourage you to sign the petition here.

Making solar power an option for more homes

More homes and businesses in Kensington and Chelsea could be powered by renewable energy, with proposals to make installing solar panels easier. Kensington and Chelsea Council is the first in the country to consult on a new planning order, which would give consent for solar panels on most Grade II and some Grade II* listed buildings without the need for individual listed building consent. Read the consultation here.

Low Cost/No Cost Tips for Sustainability in Cultural Heritage

Signatory Lorraine Finch has published her book ‘Low cost/no cost tips for sustainability in cultural heritage’. The book is available to read and download free of charge on her website.

Looking forward

Our next meeting is being held Thursday 10th February at 5pm-6pm, join through the link here.

Take part in the Welsh Historic Environment Group Climate Change Subgroup Historic Environment and Climate Change Adaptation Activity Survey 2021. They are looking for examples of about climate action work from 2021 relating to their Historic Environment and Climate Change in Wales Sector Adaptation Plan. Survey available here, more information available here. You have until 18th February to take part.

Any thoughts?

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