Residents protest at listing plan

PUBLISHED: 13:26 07 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:48 06 May 2010

Stuart and Clare Concannon are against the decision to make their home a listed building

Stuart and Clare Concannon are against the decision to make their home a listed building

A GROUP of residents is asking for help to stop their homes becoming listed buildings. An application has been made to English Heritage to list aluminium prefabs in Campfield Way and Highover Road, Letchworth GC, in a bid to prevent them from being demoli

A GROUP of residents is asking for help to stop their homes becoming listed buildings.

An application has been made to English Heritage to list aluminium prefabs in Campfield Way and Highover Road, Letchworth GC, in a bid to prevent them from being demolished and redeveloped.

The application was made by Highover and Campfield Residents' Association and Letchworth Garden City Council, but residents of six houses on the estate say it would be "the worst of any possible outcome" for the area.

The group has written to district councillors asking them to voice opposition to the application and to support North Herts Homes' plans to redevelop the estate.

One of the residents, Stuart Concannon, 29, said that if the buildings were listed, it would be difficult and expensive to make alterations or improvements to them because of the restrictions the listing would impose.

He added: "What it also means is that if you want the doors widened, for example, that would have to go to planning and that would have to wait three to six months."

He said a resident survey of the 59 bungalows in the area showed only two were in favour of the buildings becoming listed compared with 34 residents against although 23 are yet to reply.

North Herts Homes, which owns most of the bungalows, says they need to be rebuilt as they cannot be brought up to standards required by the Government cost effectively.

Mr Concannon believes that if the buildings were listed, extensive work would be required to meet these standards, which would mean residents being forced to move out, only to find almost the same building when they returned.

He said: "If you can't change the bungalows, how do you make them up to that standard?

"What actually would they be able to do apart from stop the deterioration?

"Effectively you're going to end up with the same bungalows you started with.

"To us it makes no sense - what actually gets achieved?"

He said he and his wife Clare, 42, are happy with NHH's plans "in principle".

"I don't think anyone, if they had the choice, would have anything done but that's not the reality.

"The properties are falling down and something needs to be done. The best option they have is to redevelop," he added.

A spokesman for the Highover and Campfield Residents' Association committee said: "We are surprised and saddened by the comments made by a few residents. The quotes come direct from North Herts Homes who have made these claims in the past.

"Recently, North Herts Homes have been contacted by English Heritage and they have gone into hyper-drive using words designed to frighten and mislead. There is nothing to stop a listed building having up-to-date facilities and they know it.

"As for the bungalows falling down, only NHH say so. One authority, who has refurbished their bungalows, confirmed that tenants did not have to move out because all structural elements can be accessed externally.

"Another authority states 'Our guiding principle in deciding not to redevelop was based on the undertakings given to tenants when the properties were still owned by the local council'.

"North Herts Homes made a similar commitment but unfortunately they have not used the same guiding principle. Instead their time and effort has gone into trying to discredit our association and other authorities. If they succeed it will be a tragedy for our community.

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