Town and Country Planning (Interim Development) Bill

Part of Ways and Means – in the House of Commons on 25th May 1943.

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Photo of Mr Lewis Silkin Mr Lewis Silkin , Camberwell Peckham

My hon. Friend, in moving this Amendment, has raised a very interesting and important point. It is unfortunately the fact that while permission is generally required to put up a building, no permission is required of anybody to pull down a building. Consequently, we have lost a considerable number of important buildings which have an architectural value or an historical interest, merely because the owner of such building thought it would suit him financially to pull it down. I think some action ought to be taken to deal with that possibility in the future. Under Section 17 of the principal Act the local authority may make an Order regarding any particular building. They are under no obligation to make an Order but may make an Order, and in that event the building may not be demolished without the consent of the local authority. I would like something of that sort extended in the present Bill. I am not sure that the words meet the case, because the mere making of a survey does not seem to me to be carrying the matter very much further. I think that local authorities should be required to make an Order in respect of any buildings they regard as being of architectural value or of historical interest, and those buildings, after consultation with the owner, should be properly safeguarded. I attach importance to consultation with the owner. At the present time in London surveys are being made on behalf of various Churches regarding the buildings which in their view should be preserved after the war. It happens that there are many churches of architectural value and of historical interest which are of no importance as churches, and the ecclesiastical authorities are anxious not to be burdened with the cost of maintaining them purely as museum pieces. That does give rise to a problem, and if the local authority made an Order that those buildings were not to be demolished, it would put upon the owner the burden of maintaining something which is of no importance or interest to him.