Council for the Protection of Jersey's Heritage
Halkett Place

Newsletter 2007 continued...

Urban Rescue and Conservation - André Ferrari

Our objection to an application to demolish 46 & 48 Colomberie which we started last June, and developed into the first third party appeal under the new law ended in failure. The risk of incurring punitive charges if the appeal failed naturally caused the plaintiff, on legal advice, to withdraw from the action. This is the subject of an ongoing investigation and scrutiny by States members and ourselves.

So far the Minister’s Registration and Listing Advisory Group (MRLAG) appears to be working well, with well reasoned discussions and a commitment to protect both major and lesser aspects of Jersey’s unique built environment. The Group can only make recommendations on listing, and it is the Minister who makes the final decision. His decisions so far have been largely in accordance with MRLAG recommendations.

The continuing and major concern is that under present legislation there is no real protection for the interiors of buildings listed as Potential Sites of Special Interest (pSSI). Formal ratification as a SSI is first required and this is proving to be a grindingly slow process which at the present rate of progress will take years to complete.

We are aware of one pSSI building which has had its interior gutted very recently. We have been assured that this problem is being addressed and we await further clarification. The limitations arising out of the present two-level listing system - Building of Local Interest (BLI) and SSI - is under review. We understand that the possibility of using a five-level classification system is being considered by the Historic Building officers in the Planning Department.

Despite progress in MRLAG there are continuing attempts to demolish listed buildings. We objected to the latest applications to demolish St. Juste, one of only two remaining ‘Cottage Ornée’ and two listed buildings on Gorey Pier where there are plans to replace them with a new building matching the adjoining three-story building.

We reported to Planning that a fine, early 19th century wooden door-case had been removed without permission from a listed building in Gloucester Street. This has now been replaced with an inferior softwood replica. Fortunately the matching door-case next door has survived.

Concern has been expressed at the decision to allow floors to be added to two listed public houses (The Commercial and The Cosmopolitan). Both proposals involve removing the existing pitched roof and chimney stacks and adding a new, flat-roofed story in ‘contrasting’ modern style. These are major, material alterations to the integrity of protected structures, and appear to be a worrying throwback to the 1960s when modern additions were tacked onto older structures regardless of context.

Threats to listed buildings within the Odeon re-development plans and to two small listed shops in Hillgrove Street are being monitored. Plans for Hillgrove Street would see only the front walls of these fragile buildings being ‘retained’. Our group object strongly to the growing trend towards what we describe as ‘façade-ism’.

The development of the Collin’s building in Vine Street is a classic example of this new trend. Here we have seen the demolition of all but the façade of this former pSSI building. The gaping void that now exists between the propped up façades on King Street and Vine Street is a telling witness to the continuing lack of commitment to the protection of our built heritage. Council members discovered a 17th century fireplace in the party wall and their photograph appeared in the JEP. As a result this fireplace has been preserved in situ and CPH interest ensured that an archaeological investigation was made a condition in the planning permit.

There has been much debate about the value of the resulting type of archaeological investigation carried out by external consultants who, on this occasion, seemed to be poorly equipped and lacking in any real knowledge of the local historical, archaeological and architectural context of the site. Their report is awaited with interest.

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