I recently attended a meeting at which it was stated that Ipswich was still demolishing its Listed buildings. I found this astonishing, remarkably ill-informed and frankly an insult to all those owners, occupiers, councillors and council officers as well as local bodies like the Ipswich Historic Churches Trust, Ipswich Building Preservation Trust and English Heritage who over recent years have worked so hard to conserve the heritage of the town. I then thought that perhaps we have not made the official position clear enough and that the statistics might be of interest to Society members who might also care to challenge such myths when they encounter them.
Controls on demolition of Listed buildings were admittedly weak after the war (when the numbers of officially protected buildings were much lower) but have become progressively more effective as we approach the present day. Two key local turning points were the Council's 1974 designation of the Central Conservation Area and the 1987 Conservation Strategy, which has been followed ever since.
The Conservation Service has evaluated the loss of every Ipswich Listed building since 1955 and the figures are as follows;
- 1955-1964 : 18 demolished
- 1965-1974 : 22 demolished -- Central Conservation Area declared in 1974
- 1975-1984 : 4 demolished
- 1985-1994 : 4 demolished
- 1995-2004 : Nil
- 2005-2008 : Nil
We have therefore lost just eight protected historic buildings in 33 years (two in the same fire in 1992 in Butter Market) and none in the last fourteen years. Since 1987 the number of buildings at-risk (of demolition) has been reduced from 44 to three. In the period 1980 to 2008 an additional 96 buildings have been added to the Statutory List (43 of them in a Government review of the statutory List in 1994).
I hope readers will find these figures informative.
Bob Kindred, MBE, Conservation & Urban Design Manager, Ipswich Borough Council