North Devon MP backs bid to remove Oliver Buildings listing - what do think should happen?
PUBLISHED: 17:00 13 January 2016
MP Peter Heaton-Jones says listing ‘could be more harmful’ to buildings’ future - have your say in our poll
North Devon’s MP has supported an appeal to challenge the listing of Barnstaple’s Oliver Buildings.
The former Shapland and Petter factory was listed by Historic England in September after an application was lodged by the Barnstaple Buildings Preservation Trust.
The trust, made up of architects, historians and artists, hopes to buy the buildings and create a ‘cultural gateway’ to Barnstaple.
But speaking to the Gazette this week, Peter Heaton-Jones revealed that he had written in support of an appeal by developer Wessex Investors.
He said: “They are very important buildings and a part of our town’s heritage.
“We should definitely try to save them rather than knocking them down, however, we also need the Anchorwood Bank development to go ahead as soon as possible and we can’t delay that.
“I am sure those who sought the listing thought they were doing the right thing, but that has slowed down the rest of the process.
“Potentially, the buildings are now under more threat than before.
“It was always part of the plan to incorporate the buildings but developers needed to have the flexibility to do that; with the listing they have now been denied that flexibility.
“Anyone would think a listed building was now better protected than a non-listed one, but it creates more danger in these circumstances.”
Mr Heaton-Jones conceded that it was ‘relatively unusual’ for listings to be revoked after they are granted, but urged all parties to discuss a way forward.
“I hope everyone can talk together and come up with a solution,” he added.
This week, Wessex Investors has responded to concerns over how wet the site was after heavy rain.
Last week’s Gazette carried letters from readers who feared the site could flood in the future.
But a spokesperson said: “We are building defences against a one-in-200-year event. The drainage system on site is not yet complete which is why it is a little wet at the moment.”