Historic tower faces demolition as new Culture Secretary removes listed status

·3-min read

New Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has removed the listed status of an industrial landmark, allowing it to be demolished after campaigners thought it had been saved.

Just one week after Historic England granted Teesside’s Dorman Long Tower Grade II status, it has been removed on appeal, meaning the 1955 concrete structure can be flattened.

Tees Valley Conservative Mayor Ben Houchen said removing the tower, an example of brutalist architecture, will allow major redevelopment plans on the former steelworks site in Redcar to go ahead unhindered.

Only last Friday, Historic England granted the tower Grade II Listed status – a decision Mr Houchen said was a mistake.

The mayor held meetings over the weekend to challenge the listed status and an appeal was lodged with Historic England on Sunday evening, with the application also sent to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The mayor said his team’s appeal has now succeeded and demolition can go ahead in the coming weeks.

He said if the appeal had not been successful, it would have cost more than £9 million to maintain the structure, only for it to eventually be brought down for safety reasons due to its poor state.

Mr Houchen said: “Following the submission of an appeal on Sunday the 12th of September, I can now confirm Historic England and the new Secretary of State have overturned the listing of Dorman Long Tower.

“Approving our appeal was the first decision of the new Secretary of State, this goes to show just how important the successful redevelopment of the Redcar former steelworks site is to everyone in Government.

“This reverses the decision on its Grade II listing made after an application by local activists that, if allowed to stand, would have cost the taxpayer in excess of £9 million.

Dorman Long Tower, an industrial landmark on Teesside
Dorman Long Tower, an industrial landmark on Teesside (Vince Smith/PA)

“That’s money that would not be spent on the creation of jobs, the NHS, transport and other important services.

“Worse than that, it would have cost thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of pounds of investment that we were – and still are – trying to bring to the site where Dorman Long Tower currently stands.

“Historic England has accepted that the listing was a mistake, it was made by a junior officer who agreed the listing without ever seeing the structure itself.

“The application that was made was inaccurate, incomplete and misleading and would have put the progress and jobs at risk.

“I would like to send a message to those that think trying to stop these developments is the right thing to do – our heritage does not lie in a rotting coal bunker, our heritage lies in the people that built this great region.”

Vince Smith, an independent on Redcar and Cleveland Council, voiced anger about the loss of the “symbolic” piece of industrial heritage.

Initial plans for the huge redevelopment of the steelworks site featured the tower to reflect its past, he said.

He added that the mayor is wrong to suggest those who are in favour of saving the tower are against redevelopment and jobs.

“The two are not mutually exclusive, and what he says flies in the face of their own original plans,” Mr Smith said.

Sue Jeffrey, a Labour member of the same council, said demolishing the tower shows a lack of imagination.

She criticised the mayor for referring to a confidential report about the tower which has not been made public.

“It may be there are major issues with the tower, that should be a conversation they have with local people,” she said.

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