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Gloucester's heritage 'at risk' - how can historic city buildings be protected?

By The Citizen  |  Posted: April 29, 2014

By Matt Discombe and Ben Falconer

  • 'At risk' Llanthony Provender Mill

  • 'Vulnerable' Albion House

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SHOWPIECE heritage buildings and monuments Gloucester have been targeted for improvement by city conservation experts.

A list of all 660 buildings and monuments in Gloucester protected by Grade I and II listed status has been published by Gloucester City Council.

But 26 of them are ‘at risk’, which means they are vacant and are in poor condition through decay or neglect. And a further 17 have been identified as ‘vulnerable’, which means they are also in poor condition but are occupied.

There are six buildings which have been added to the ‘at risk’ register in its latest update. They include properties in Southgate Street and Westgate Street, plus Fox’s Malthouse at the Docks.

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The ‘vulnerable’ category has 11 new additions, including Llanthony Swing Bridge, Gloucester Country Club in Matson Lane and three monuments in the churchyard of St James Church in Tredworth.

When the survey was first carried out in Gloucester in 2001 there were 50 properties identified as being at risk.

Since then a total of 30 buildings have been removed as they have been brought back into use and their futures secured.

A city council spokesman said: “The register means that the city, which has a wealth of historic buildings, keeps focused on their condition so that they can be enjoyed by future generations.

“City council conservation officers regularly monitor the condition of the buildings on the register and work closely with the owners to get essential works done.”

The project was aimed at deciding whether Grade II listed buildings should be included on English Heritage’s ‘Risk Register’.

Council staff work with owners of buildings on the list to encourage them to get repairs and improvements carried out.

Statutory notices can be served to require owners to carry out works as a last resort. None have been served in the past eight years.

Councillor Paul James, pictured, leader of the city council, said: “We put together the buildings at risk register every year because these buildings are an important part of the city’s heritage.

“Our aim is to work collaboratively with owners to make the repairs.

“Most building owners want to cooperate and the city council can also help them with grants. The ideal solution for unoccupied buildings are that they are put to some use.

“Statutory notices are a rarity but if building owners continue to not cooperate with us we will not hesitate to use the legal powers available.”

LOTTERY FUNDING CAN HELP PRESERVE BUILDINGS

SIGNIFICANT buildings both ‘at risk’ include Llanthony Secunda Priory and the Tanners Hall.

The future looks brighter for the former 14th Century Augustinian priory of Llanthony Secunda, pictured, next to Gloucestershire College.

Thanks to volunteers in a trust which looks after it, it is weathertight but it has been on the city council’s at risk register since 2001 as a category one – ‘extreme risk’.

The trust now has lottery funding for repair and conservation of all the buildings at the priory, including a new interpretation centre which should start in Autumn 2015.

The future of the Tanners Hall, the oldest surviving secular building in Gloucester, remains unclear however.

It went on the market in 2013 for almost £395,000, then pulled from auction because of a lack of interest, despite planning approval for a residential and commercial conversion.

It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and was “lost” for almost 100 years until 1976 when historians searched ancient records before the inner relief road, Gouda Way was built.

The report says it ‘is the only surviving remains of a stone medieval merchant’s house in Gloucester and is rare nationally in the context of other medieval cities’.

HOW GLOUCESTER'S HERITAGE CAN BOOST ECONOMY

PRESERVING Gloucester’s heritage will help instil a greater sense of pride in the city, experts have said.

It will also leave visitors with a positive impression, which in turn could help harness economic benefits.

Hugh Worsnip, pictured top, of Gloucester Civic Trust, said: “The city has a tremendous heritage to show visitors and it’s really positive that the council is examining buildings which are potentially at risk.

“Preserving listed buildings is certainly a problem in Gloucester because all the time there are people breaking planning regulations either because they don’t know the rules or they don’t care.”

Joan Hughes, middle, a member of the Churchdown Historical Society, said that listed buildings are very important. She said: “It improves the visual space of where we live, gets more people in and makes money for the city.

“The city council is now waking up to the fact that areas of the city, such as the King’s Square, need to be improved.”

Liz Barnwell, bottom, deputy chief executive of Marketing Gloucester, added: “Derelict buildings detract from the aesthetic appeal of a place and can be a real eyesore.

“It’s so important to ensure that historic buildings are well-maintained to reflect both civic pride and the area’s heritage, so that all visitors to the city leave with a positive impression which will make them want to return.”

'AT RISK' BUILDINGS

-Llanthony Priory – range between outer and inner courts; precinct wall north of inner gatehouse; precinct wall south of outer gatehouse; range on south side of inner court; tythe barn on north side of inner court

-Scriven’s Conduit, Hillfield Gardens

-Downing’s Malthouse and extension

-Iron framed shed to south of Downing’s Malthouse

-Llanthony Provender Mill

-Boundary wall between churchyard of the Church of St Swithun & Hempsted House

-74 & 76 Southgate St

-Albion House, 77 Southgate St

-78 Southgate St

-141 Southgate St

-182 Southgate St

-333 Stroud Rd

-Fox’s Malthouse

-The Fleece Hotel

-Old Judges’ House, 26 Westgate St

-39 Westgate St

-78 Westgate St

-109 Westgate St

-Tanners Hall, Worcester St

'VULNERABLE' BUILDINGS

-30 Brunswick Rd

-18 Brunswick Square

-27 & 29 Commercial Rd

-Llanthony Priory farmhouse

-Llanthony Swing Bridge

-Boundary wall to street frontage to south west & south of Selwyn School, Matson Lane

-Gloucester Country Club (former Larkham Farmhouse), Matson Lane

-102 Northgate St

-Chest tomb approx. 1.5m south east of Church of St Swithun

-Gennings Monument in the churchyard of St James, School Lane

-Minchin Monument in the churchyard of St James, School Lane

-Unidentified monument in St James’ churchyard

-5 & 7 Stroud Rd

-55 & 57 Southgate St

-Old Debtors’ Prison and central block, former HM Prison

-41 Westgate St

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