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Last Updated: Monday, 16 August, 2004, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
X-list plan for 'vile' buildings
Westgate House
Westgate House, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, is a target of the plans
A grade X listing should be given to Britain's worst eyesore buildings to speed up their demolition, says one of the UK's leading architects.

George Ferguson, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), has proposed the scheme to combat the country's "most vile" buildings.

He says it would counterbalance the existing grade I or grade II awards. Generous grants should be used to persuade property developers to condemn ugly edifices, added Mr Ferguson.

'Useless spaces'

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Mr Ferguson said his concerns were not just aesthetic, but he also wanted to create "decent, civilised places" for people to live.

UGLY BUILDINGS
You sent in your photos of Britain's biggest eyesores

"The quantum leap we have to make is to understand how to create communities as opposed to just a series of buildings," he told the newspaper.

"We have lost the art of making streets and squares which encourage people to gather."

He said European cities had the kind of attractions which made people want to visit them, but Britain had created a lot of "useless spaces".

Under his plans, such buildings would be denied planning permission to change their use, hopefully speeding up their demolition.

Furthermore, developers would be encouraged to push for "demolition or radical improvement" by being given grants.

Sheffield's Park Hill Estate
Sheffield's Park Hill Estate would be demolished under the plans

Mr Ferguson said government ministers had welcomed the initiative but no decisions had been made as yet.

He added that he had a good relationship with English Heritage, which will take over the running of the grade listing system from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, next April.

Mr Ferguson, 57, who has been president of the RIBA for one year, said it was not just the country's architectural heritage which concerned him, but the nation's mental health.

He said removing these "bad" buildings would not only improve mental health but stop planners, developers and engineers from working against one other.

HAVE YOUR SAY
What a cracking idea Mr Ferguson has come up with!
Paul Blezard, London, UK

Some of the buildings which he would put on the X-list include the Saint George's Hotel, in Langham Place, London, and Westgate House, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Housing estates

Other eyesores, he said, include the Park Hill Estate, in Sheffield, which has grade II listed status, Tollgate House, in Bristol, and St James shopping centre, Edinburgh.

More needed to be done to combat the housing estate "blueprint" that had ruined large sections of Britain's cities, he said.

He added that the housing shortage was a chronic problem and recommended BedZED, an environmentally friendly and energy efficient mix of housing and work space in Beddington, south London, as the next step in house building.

He said it was the prototype of economically viable, high-density housing, which did not alienate people as some housing estates do.

A spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the government department responsible for planning policy, said: "Good design and the contribution of old and new buildings to the environment is at the heart of our policies to create sustainable communities.

"We are encouraging high-density developments, particularly in the south east, and obviously good design is part of creating places where people want to live and work."




SEE ALSO:
Eyesore demolition a step closer
13 Aug 04  |  Tyne/Wear
Residents fight tower block plan
29 Jul 04  |  London


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