In and around Brierley Hill we have 3 conservation areas, 2 scheduled ancient monuments, 10 grade II listed buildings and 25 locally listed buildings. It is important that we protect and preserve these. I wonder can you name them?
I couldn’t, although I had a good guess at some of them: St Michael’s Church, the Old Technical School and Library in Moor Street and I was also aware that the pair of shops (empty at the moment) next to St Mary’s Catholic Church on High Street were also listed.
The Brierley Hill Civic Society is concerned that the best of our heritage should be preserved.
But what to do?
To answer that question the Society invited Jayne Pilkington, Borough Conservation officer, to its meeting held in June 2014.
The legislative framework
Jayne commenced her talk with a run through the legislative framework to protect and conserve our heritage. This included:
- the new [National Planning Policy Framework][!g], in particular chapter 12, which is a national document to which all other planning policies must conform;
- the schedule of ancient monuments which has been kept since 1882;
The Red House Glass Cone is a scheduled ancient monument
St Michael’s church is one of Brierley Hill’s Grade II listed buildings
- the local list of buildings and conservation areas.
The ‘Little Devils’ on Moor Street is locally listed because of its connections to historic local industry
To be placed on the statutory list, which were established by the Town and Country Planning Acts of 1945 and 1947 a building has to be of architectural interest, or historic interest (even so there has to be some quality of inteest in the physical fabric of the building itself to justify listing).
Being listed gives some protection to the building. You can’t just do what you want with it…you have to ask permission. English Heritage guidelines state:
“Listing does not freeze a building in time, it simply means that listed building consent must be applied for in order to make any changes to that building which might affect its special interest. Listed buildings can be altered, extended and sometimes even demolished within government planning guidance. The local authority uses listed building consent to make decisions that balance the site’s historic significance against other issues such as its function, condition or viability.”
Problems with the act
The problem is that the act assumes that all buildings dating from earlier than 1840 will qualify for listing. This arbritrary date presents problems for those towns – such as Brierley Hill – which developed during the industrial revolution.
This is where local listing and conservation areas come in. Local authorities are able to produce a local list of buildings it considers worthy of preservation, but which don’t quite make it to listed status’. The council’s website explains:
“Although controls are not as strict as those related to the statutory list the Council is committed to resisting proposals to demolish or adversely alter Locally Listed Buildings.”
Conservation areas are declared following a ’character appraisal of an area. You can read about how these are designated by clicking here.
In conservation areas the local authority you will need planning permission for:
- changes to external features like doors and windows
- satellite dishes
- alterations to roofs
- the demolition and erection of garden walls
- building new structures or extensions
- demolishing buildings.
So how does this affect Brierley Hill?
In Dudley borough
In Dudley borough there are:
- 11 scheduled monuments (including one in Brierley Hill ward – the Redhouse, Whitehouse and Newhouse glassworks at audnam – and one just over the border – Saltwells Wood coal mining remains),
- 254 statutory listed buildings of which 6 are Grade I listed, 27 Grade II* listed and 227 Grade II listed
- 343 locally listed buildings
- 22 Conservation Areas
- For the digitally minded: 3201 Heritage Environment Record (HER) records – for public benefit and use.
- 1 remaining Conservation Officer
Actually, Jayne didn’t make that last point. I did.
It concerns me that for all the legislation to protect buildings there still needs to be resources locally to do the enforcement. Dudley’s team is now one. I wonder if this is another hidden cutback we will come to regreat by the time it is too late.
On the following pages you will find more information about Brierley Hill’s buildings – at least one of which has now disappeared.
The Red Lion is part of Brierley Hill’s conservation area and is therefore afforded some protection