Formal national protection for buildings of special architectural and historic interest ('Listed Buildings') was introduced in 1947, resulting in nearly half a million buildings in England now being protected. Current Government-led heritage protection reforms are now placing greater emphasis on other components of the local environment that are of value to local communities. In this context the Borough Council considers that revision of the Local List (Buildings of Townscape Interest) is now timely for a variety of reasons, principal among which is to provide supplementary guidance supporting the Local Development Framework Ipswich Core Strategy approved in September 2009.
As currently proposed, the policy on buildings of townscape interest (DC9) makes a presumption in favour of retaining and repairing buildings of particular townscape interest, with loss only being permitted where a replacement is of an equal or higher standard of design and incorporating sustainability features. The policy is more robust and potentially more effective than the one in the adopted Ipswich Local Plan which relied on the Council serving Building Preservation Notices to protect local buildings irrespective of their individual merits or the prospect of such Notices being confirmed by the Government.
Buildings of special local interest are also more likely to be retained where such inventories have been the subject of public consultation and command widespread local public support. With continuing growth in interest in local history and the quality of the local environment, it is hoped the revised Local List will help identify what is special and worth retaining in particular neighbourhoods.
When reported to the Council's Planning and Transportation committee in September 1984, the Ipswich Society's Local List was warmly commended and the content has been continuously useful to the Council since in the exercise of its planning and conservation functions. The Conservation Service has therefore taken the publication as its starting point for the current review.
Of the 600 buildings of local interest originally identified in 1984, 56 are now formally Listed, 16 have been demolished in whole or substantially, and 5 located in Westerfield are now part of Suffolk Coastal DC's administrative area. Many buildings have been altered (often unsympathetically). Consequently, without revision the List has become less useful.
Since 1984 Conservation Area coverage has also widened - the Park Conservation Area for example was designated in 1985. Furthermore, much more is now known about many of the architects (both parochial and national) of local buildings, which enables their significance to be put in context.
While a number of local authorities closely base the selection criteria for buildings of local interest on those for Listed Buildings, this seems not particularly suited to selection of local buildings as the meeting of such criteria would in all probability have resulted in the statutory protection which would make a Local List unnecessary. However, the main generic criteria are pertinent - architectural interest, historic interest, close historical association and group value, together with age and rarity. The older the buildings are, the fewer the surviving examples (and the more likelihood of automatic protection). The evaluation of the historic development of Ipswich and the regular review of its most historic buildings suggests that, for example, almost no surviving medieval buildings have been missed, but economic stagnation in the Georgian era leaves only a small legacy of such architecture. The content of the existing Local List is therefore strongly orientated to the 19th century and later.
The draft revised Local List has initially identified about 800 potential buildings for inclusion and this inventory is likely to be published for public consultation in the summer. Unlike the Society's original Local List (and indeed many other local authorities' lists -which are often just address lists) the Council intends to identify why the buildings have been recommended for inclusion. In common with the Society's 1984 List, it is intended (where practicable) to include a current photograph of the buildings. Twenty-five years ago, before the advent of digital cameras, this was a major logistical exercise and currently it still remains a significant part of the work to be completed.
The Ipswich Society's Chairman has remarked that this recording aspect would probably be of interest to members. The Conservation Team would therefore be grateful for offers of assistance from Society members to complete the photographic coverage.
If you would care to come forward, please contact Mrs Gail Broom, the Council's Conservation Officer:
tel 01473 432935
or email email@example.com
BOB KINDRED, Ipswich Conservation & Urban Design Service