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The past must be saved for future generations
AN action plan is being drawn up over concerns some of Worcester’s most historic buildings are crumbling away.
Council chiefs say they will look at each and every site on the city’s Heritage At Risk register to see what can be done. As your Worcester News revealed last week, 29 public buildings, chapels, former pubs, private properties and other assets feature on the list. Many remain in a serious condition because of decades of neglect, and the register has been published to alert the public to the situation.
Councillor David Wilkinson, Worcester’s appointed heritage champion, said: “We’ve got just under 30 sites on the list and what we’ve got to do now is look at each one in context. The aspiration we will be working towards is to have an ‘action plan’ for each building, so we are not just putting them on the register and wringing our hands.
“We will be taking action and if buildings do start to fall apart, there are sanctions we can use. “By law the owners have to keep their building in a reasonable state of repair, and the question is, at what state does a site’s condition be-come not reasonable. “What we can say to an owner is, ‘Keep a building empty if you like, but keep it in a decent condition’.”
The list includes 18 grade two-listed sites, including the railway bridge at Foregate Street railway station, St Cuthbert’s Chapel in Lower Wick, and the old engine works in Shrub Hill Road. It also includes two curry houses in the Tything – Ashley’s and Anarkali, where the second floors are closed to the public and in a poor state of repair. One of the biggest landmarks on the register is the Scala Theatre in Angel Street, which is also in urgent need of a revamp.
Under planning rules, councils can issue enforcement notices on neglected buildings to compel the owners to improve it or face a compulsory purchase order.
But in all cases they will try and negotiate with the owner first.