This week has seen the listing of two garage forecourt canopy’s, not a huge news story in itself, lots of property gets listed each year. What is of more interest is the effect this has on the property and more importantly the owner.
Both of the canopies are quite remarkable and date from a period when concrete was ‘a really neat idea’ and architects were doing bigger and wackier things with it. From an architectural and historical point of view I applaud the listings, we are too keen to destroy our recent heritage in the name of development, but protect old buildings with little to offer. Buildings like this are a snap shot of a period of our social history and do need to be remembered, but at what cost and to whom?
Both sites are roadside by their nature and so very high-profile, consequently they will be well-known to the local area. One of them appears to be in good condition and still trades as a petrol forecourt. But, the other which is in Nottinghamshire is I believe unused and appears to be somewhat dilapidated. I am not aware of the history behind this site, but assume it is not going to be capable of trading as a petrol station or roadside style trade. It is therefore arguably worthless from a commercial viewpoint. However, it is now protected and the owner is required by law to protect it from decay and damage at his own cost.
Is that fair? I accept that saving the buildings for posterity is a good thing, but if they were acquired before the listing was made is it fair to now require the individual to manage and pay for the additional upkeep? I think not – some form of support should be available to at least assist with regard to the costs surely?
There are numerous listed sites in the UK that are falling into disrepair because the owners do not have the financial clout to do the works – and they are not permitted to ‘bodge it’. Surely this is something that either central or local government needs to address before we lose even more classic buildings and structures – despite the best efforts of the listing authorities?