Demolition of the Firestone tyre factory in progress over the summer Bank Holiday weekend in the late 1970s © EDIFICE / Alamy Stock Photo

Number 8: Interim Protection

This edition of Heritage Online Debate explores whether we are doing enough to keep valuable, historic buildings safe from being demolished or significantly altered before they can be protected by listing.

We have all been aware that buildings of special architectural or historic interest are sometimes lost prior to, or during assessment for listing. Fortunately the numbers of buildings that suffer from pre-emptive damage are small, especially compared to the numbers of buildings we look at each year, but they are often cases that hit the headlines. We are therefore keen to explore what more can be done, both within current legislation and in the longer term.

In England, the service of a Building Preservation Notice (BPN) is the main means of interim protection, but they are underused. Only an average of between five and six BPNs are served by local planning authorities each year. Recent investigations have shown a few reasons for this, with compensation seemingly the main barrier. In order to address this, we recently published an updated advice note on BPNs and announced a two-year pilot scheme to explore the benefits of indemnification by Historic England against the risk of compensation claims.

To start this debate we have invited a few external contributors to examine the issue from their viewpoints.

Guest editors: Dr Richard Morrice, Head of Planning and Heritage Reform Strategy at Historic England and Jess Cole, Listing Casework Analysis Manager at Historic England.

The purpose of the Heritage Online Debate is to explore issues of current heritage interest from a range of perspectives. It therefore follows that some of the articles express a range of views. For the avoidance of doubt the inclusion or posting by Historic England of any article does not necessarily imply a recommendation or an endorsement by Historic England of the views expressed within them. However we are keen to publish these different opinions so we can all arrive at a better understanding of the matters under discussion and how we can best protect and manage our shared heritage.

Subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know when we publish new Heritage Online Debate articles.