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Public Buildings: Plymouth

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 17 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on what date, and at what stage of the process, the (a) Secretary of State and (b) other Ministers were informed of the advice from English Heritage on the listing of the civil centre in Plymouth. (150427)

English Heritage provides advice to the Secretary of State on listing applications once they have consulted owners and local planning authorities and completed a full assessment of the building. English Heritage provided their advice on the listing of the civic centre in Plymouth to the then Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell) on 12 June 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations were received by the Department objecting to the listing of the civic centre in Plymouth; and what advice he received from officials within his Department on the listing of the civic centre. (150428)

Between receipt by English Heritage of the application to list the building in April 2006 and the decision to list being taken in June 2007, the Department received two representations objecting to the possible listing. These representations were made by my hon. Friends the Members for Plymouth, Sutton (Linda Gilroy) and for Plymouth, Devonport (Alison Seabeck). The then Minister for Culture, my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (David Lammy) was advised that objections to the possible listing had been received, but that the application to list was with English Heritage pending the completion of an adviser’s report.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what account was taken of representations objecting to the listing of the civic centre in Plymouth received by his Department. (150429)

All relevant evidence is taken into account in determining listing applications. For evidence to be relevant it must relate to the statutory criteria of special architectural or historic interest set out in planning policy guidance note 15. These are the only factors that the Secretary of State may take into account in making listing decisions. State of repair, cost of maintenance and unsuitability for modern needs are matters which are not relevant to the assessment of a building’s qualifications for listing—but they are all things which can be taken into account by the planning authority in considering any application to demolish or alter a listed building.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what role Ministers in his Department played in the approval of the listing of the civic centre in Plymouth; and on what date the listing of the civic centre in Plymouth was approved by Ministers. (150430)

English Heritage administers the listing system on behalf of the Secretary of State, but it is the Secretary of State who decides whether a building should be added to the statutory list. The decision to list the civic centre in Plymouth was made on 21 June 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what extra revenue his Department will make available to Plymouth council in respect of the financial implications of the listing of Plymouth civic centre by English Heritage. (150487)

Government funding for the historic environment in England is channelled through English Heritage. Grants are available for structural repairs to listed buildings that English Heritage considers to be of outstanding historical or architectural interest. Grants are usually restricted to buildings listed Grade I or Grade II*—rather than Grade II listed—but all applications are dealt with on their individual merits. There are a number of charitable trusts that make grants towards the preservation and upkeep of historic buildings. In addition, the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) has powers to provide financial assistance towards the repair and maintenance of buildings of importance to the national heritage, through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Decisions on applications are made by the NHMF trustees, who seek advice from English Heritage and other professional bodies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions he has had with the chief executive of English Heritage on its decision to list Plymouth civic centre; and if he will make a statement. (150488)

There have been no discussions between my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the chief executive of English Heritage on the decision to list Plymouth civic centre.