EFFORTS to preserve Leicester’s rich architectural heritage have resulted in 25 properties being removed from a local list of historic buildings at risk.
The Leicester Heritage at Risk Register was first published by Leicester City Council in October 2017. It originally listed 68 local properties that had been identified as being at risk due to long term vacancy and neglect.
In the three years since its publication, extensive investment and efforts to repair, conserve and find new uses for these historic local assets have seen over one third of the buildings and structures restored and removed from the list
The latest version of the register – published this week – now lists 56 properties, including 12 new entries which have been identified as needing intervention from the council’s building conservation team.
The 25 properties removed from the register have been repaired and renovated either as a result of direct city council action or through private investment supported by the local authority. They are all now considered to be well-maintained and back in active use.
Work already underway or programmed to start soon should see more buildings removed from the Leicester Heritage at Risk Register over the coming year.
Cllr Adam Clarke, deputy city mayor and city council heritage champion, said: “We’re very proud of Leicester’s growing reputation as a leading centre for heritage-led regeneration, and this update to our local Heritage at Risk Register shows how much we’ve achieved over the last three years. Successfully restoring and bringing back into use over a third of the historic buildings and structures identified as being at risk just three years ago is a tremendous achievement.
“The council takes its role as custodian of the city’s architectural heritage very seriously, but we know we couldn’t have made such a positive impact on own.
“By working closely with local stakeholders –including our two universities – we are continuing to attract major investment into the city. This is a vital part of our commitment to preserving and cherishing the city’s historic buildings and the valuable contribution they make to Leicester’s rich architectural heritage."
One of the oldest properties removed from the list is the Turret Gateway on Castle View, which dates back to c1422. The grade I-listed building had been included in the national Buildings at Risk Register since 2008. Specialist repair works commissioned by the city council were completed in early 2019 and the structure is now in good condition and fully accessible to the public.
Other examples include the grade II-listed Braunstone Hall following its ambitious redevelopment as the Winstanley House hotel complex; the former Great Central Railway Station, which is due to open soon as an exciting new leisure attraction; and the landmark chimney and water tower of the former Wolsey Factory, which now add character to a new housing development.
A further ten properties have been removed from the list as a result of work to refurbish historic buildings and bring them back into use as residential properties. These include part of the former Towers Hospital site; the North Bridge Mills factory in Frog Island; a locally listed former vicarage on St Peter’s Road and two properties in the historic Old Town (27 Friar Lane and 21 St Martins), which both benefitted from support from the Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative.
The Leicester Orthodox Synagogue building in Stoneygate, the former Wildt Bromley Factory in St Saviour’s Road and a set of Grade II-listed wrought iron railings on the corner of King Street and Regent Road has also all been removed from the local heritage at risk list following works.
Property at 140-142 New Walk is the only example to have been both added to and removed from the list in the last three years. Following the partial collapse of the building in December 2017, localised demolition work was carried out, with the facades retained. The original structure has now been rebuilt as a residential use with the existing facades repaired and refurbished.
A further 12 properties have been added to the register over the last three years.
These include the Odeon Arcade on Market Place, where the city council is now carrying out urgent repair and restoration work under a Section 215 Notice. This means the owner will be charged for the required works which they have neglected to carry out.
Another notable addition is the nationally listed timber warehouse on Church Gate, which is a priority site for the recently announced £1.5m city centre Heritage Action Zone.
Significant progress has also been made on a number of properties and these are likely to be removed from the local heritage at risk list soon. Examples include the 15thcentury Abbott Penny’s Wall at Abbey Park; the Church of St Peter in Highfields; the former Turkish Baths building on Friar Lane; the former Poor Law Offices on Pocklingtons Walk; and the Magazine Gateway – which dates back to c1410.
Over the last three years, Leicester City Council has also arranged a programme of heritage skills sessions for owners of historic properties to help them identify risks and better manage their buildings. This included an event for managing historic places of worship in partnership with Historic England and the Diocese of Leicester that was the largest of its kind nationally.
The Leicester Heritage at Risk Register sits alongside Historic England’s national Heritage at Risk Register but includes a wider range of local buildings reflecting their local importance.
There are currently 398 nationally listed buildings, six registered historic parks and gardens, 11 scheduled monuments, 24 conservation areas and 393 locally listed heritage assets in Leicester.
For more information visit www.leicester.gov.uk/conservation