Plea for listed buildings help

A PRESERVATION group is calling on the Government to give English Heritage and local authorities more resources to protect Suffolk's 13,000 "listed" properties.

A PRESERVATION group is calling on the Government to give English Heritage and local authorities more resources to protect Suffolk's 13,000 "listed" properties.

The Suffolk Preservation Society also fears that proposed changes to the present listed building system could lead to a reduction in protection to the 11,500 buildings in the county which currently have Grade II status.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is considering changes to the listed building system which would see Grade I and Grade II* left on the national list of properties of special architectural of historic interest.

The ordinary Grade II buildings would be switched to local lists, held on registers which would also contain properties of special interest which do not meet the "listing" criteria.


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But the Suffolk Preservation Society, which has 1,500 members throughout the county, believes the dual list approach could result in a reduction of protection for Grade II properties and it is imploring officials not to "tinker" with the existing system unless good reason can be provided.

The call to the Government comes as conservation departments in many local authorities come under pressure for spending cuts.

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Despite being above average in terms of the quality of the built environment, Suffolk has fewer conservation officers than the national average.

Richard Ward, Suffolk Preservation Society director, said the Government proposals failed to address the issue of how building protection could be properly funded at a local level.

"Significant additional resources are a pre-requisite to any of the proposals being adopted. Without them the society would prefer to see the existing system retained and strengthened," he said.

Mr Ward said there was a need for a new survey of listed buildings, especially in the Babergh, Mid Suffolk and Suffolk Coastal districts.

In Babergh there were an estimated 1,000 buildings which met the national criteria but were currently not listed and had no official protection.

English Heritage needed an increased budget as the necessary legal powers to fund works to Grade II listed buildings outside designated conservation areas – if they were judged to be "at risk", he added.

The society is also calling for conservation areas to be given greater protection to stop "inappropriate" development.

A spokesman for the Essex branch of CPRE said comment on the Government proposals was being left to head office as it was a national issue.

A Government White Paper on the future of the listed building system is expected within the next few months.

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