Seventy-five years ago, in the post-war period of rebuilding, the UK started to ‘list’ and protect buildings deemed to be of particular architectural significance. When put before Parliament in 1947, the proposing minister said: ‘When this Bill becomes law, we shall have created an instrument of which we can be justly proud; we shall have begun a new era in the life of this country, an era in which human happiness, beauty, and culture will play a greater part in its social and economic life than they have ever done before.’
Since the Act’s introduction, about half a million buildings have become listed at either Grade II, Grade II* or Grade I status across the country. Restrictions vary by grading but, among other things, all grades mean that the building may not be demolished without special permission from the local planning authority.
And yet, despite well-supported campaigns like RetroFirst and Part Z, there are no equivalent laws in the UK that protect the other 25 million UK buildings from needless demolition and we lose around 50,000 buildings a year because of this.