Culture secretary

Brutalist tower demolished after new culture secretary orders it to be delisted

The 1950s Dorman Long Tower was given a last-minute reprieve last week, after it was added to England’s National Heritage List on the recommendation of Historic England. The listing decision came shortly after the planning permission for its demolition was approved. However, it was almost immediately canceled by the new Secretary of State.

Historic England had argued that the building was ‘a recognized and celebrated example of early brutalist architecture, a fine example of austere design which simply, but unreservedly expresses its function’, adding that it was ‘unique to the National level”.

But the tower blew up early on Sunday morning (September 19) after it was canceled from heritage listing. Nadine Dorries made the decision on Thursday morning (September 16), hours after accepting the post of Secretary of State at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Dorries accepted an appeal of the original listing decision, which had been submitted by the South Tees Development Corporation and its de facto leader Ben Houchen, the Conservative Mayor of Tees Valley.

The town hall razed the building as part of its redevelopment of a 1,800ha former industrial site in south Tees. The public developer is creating a free port, Teesworks, which will use favorable customs tariffs to attract investment to the region.

A spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said Dorries’ decision was “based on other evidence which, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, underlined that the building did not present the particular architectural or historical interest required to remain listed”.

Houchen, meanwhile, said in a statement: “Historic England accepted that the inscription was a mistake; it was made by a junior officer, who accepted the inscription without ever seeing the structure itself. .

However, Historic England denied making a mistake. The heritage body confirmed it had updated its listing report, but said: ‘We were able to visit the site and after further assessment we have confirmed our view that the tower merits be classified at grade II.”

The Mayor of Tees Valley said Dorries’ swift decision to delist Dorman Long Tower ‘shows how important the successful redevelopment of the former Redcar Steelworks is to all in government’.

He added that if the tower had been permitted it ‘would have cost the taxpayer over £9m’. Bouchen has also previously stated that the building “is expected to be demolished – at greater cost – in just a few years, anyway, due to the irreversible damage it has suffered from its abandonment and ruin.”

However, the South Tees Development Corporation has not released a copy of the report, written by Atkins, which it commissioned on the cost and feasibility of restoring Dorman Long Tower. He refused to give the AJ a copy of the report.

The demolition of the Dorman Long Tower was met with dismay by architects and heritage organizations.

Renowned architect George Clarke was among those who expressed disappointment at the radiation, saying: ‘This is heartbreaking news. We’ve lost far too many buildings in the Northeast that celebrate our incredible industrial past.

“It is a unique building and must be saved. I’m sure everyone could have come together to find a way to save the tower and integrate it into the new development for the benefit of all.

Catherine Croft, director of the Twentieth Century Society, said ‘a minister reversing a historic England listing decision is always of concern’ – stressing that listing is only meant to be based on architectural interest and historical.

“The wider social benefit of future proposals for the site and the economic viability of reuse should play no part in the listing decision,” she said. “They must be assessed at the classified building permit stage.”

But Houchen hit back at critics saying, “I would like to send a message to those who think that trying to stop these developments is the right thing to do – our legacy does not lie in a rotting coal bunker; our heritage lies in the people who built this great region.

“It is found in structures that stand across the world, from The Shard, Sydney Harbor Bridge and One World Trade Centre. It’s our legacy, and trying to keep a structure that’s been abandoned and can’t be saved, delaying and jeopardizing thousands of jobs that we’re trying to create for local people, is everything. absolutely ridiculous.

Dorman Long Tower, Middlesbrough. Architect unknown. Built 1954-57

Source: Simon Phipps

More reaction to the demolition