Buildings of Local Historical Importance in Aldershot and Farnborough

former Imperial Hotel once earmarked for demolition for Urban Renewal

former Imperial Hotel once earmarked for demolition for Urban Renewal

Wellington Street earmarked for demolition

Wellington Street earmarked for demolition

The Tumbledown Dick  hand-tinted photo c 1911

The Tumbledown Dick hand-tinted photo c 1911

The Ship Inn site of the world's first heavyweight boxing match

The Ship Inn site of the world’s first heavyweight boxing match

A building or structure will only be added to the Local List if it meets the criteria. If a building or structure meets the criteria there will be no valid reason for omitting it. – Buildings of Local Importance, Draft Supplementary Planning Document, Rushmoor November 2011

The Council will seek to protect and retain Buildings of Local Importance whenever possible. Demolition should only be agreed where the replacement is of such a high quality that the loss of the locally important building/structure will be adequately mitigated by a development that enhances the character of the local area. – Buildings of Local Importance, Draft Supplementary Planning Document, Rushmoor November 2011

Aldershot was a small village, it then grew at a rapid pace with the arrival of the British Army during the reign of Queen Victoria. It has the unique distinction of being a Victorian town. Most of that Victorian heritage has been destroyed, a once proud Victorian town gutted by a local council with no vision, with planners who give every appearance of being in the pocket of developers, pushing through any scheme they want, spineless councillors who do what the planners tell them.

Farnborough was a few isolated houses in the middle of a desolate heath, coaching inns on the track that ran across the heath. It is vital that what little is left of what the Anglo-Saxons called Ferneberga (Fern Hill) is protected.

Heritage provides a sense of place, tells us who we are where we have come from, enhances the quality of life, gives a place its unique character, provides premises for small businesses in the centre of town.

Somewhat late in the day, an official policy on affording some protection to what little is left of the cultural and historical heritage of Aldershot and Farnborough has been adopted.

There are buildings and monument and sites identified by English Heritage that have national protection. By having a local policy, it affords protection to sites of local importance but not necessarily of national importance. Or at least that is the theory.

There are presently just under 100 statutory listed buildings in the Rushmoor Borough area. These range from St. Michael’s Abbey and individual dwellings, to commemorative monuments and wind tunnels. There are three Scheduled Ancient Monuments (barrows and a hillfort) and eight designated conservation areas.

However, there are many other buildings and structures throughout the Borough which do not meet the criteria for national statutory listing but are of considerable local historical and/or architectural merit. These buildings/structures reinforce local distinctiveness and a sense of place but do not enjoy any statutory protection.

The overall aim of this Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) is to identify these buildings and structures of special local architectural and historical interest, and provide them with a level of closer scrutiny and protection against undesirable alterations and/or irreplaceable loss.

By establishing a Local List of Buildings and Structures of Local Importance, this will encourage the owners and occupiers to take pride in the care of their property and have the satisfaction of being involved in the conservation of a building for the benefit of present and future generations.

Through adopting a policy, we can identify these buildings, raise awareness of their importance, ensure they are protected from unwanted and inappropriate development driven by greed and ignorance.

When considering applications for alteration, extension or demolition of a building or structure on the Local List, the significance of the building, and its particular features of importance will be taken into consideration. If a building is included on the Local List, this will be a material consideration when determining any planning applications that affect it.

The policy sets out a criteria for addition to the list of ‘protected’ buildings. This is by no means the complete list (more as an illustration):

  • Buildings or structures dating before 1840, which have survived in anything like their original condition
  • Buildings dated between 1840 and 1914 that have a definite quality and character. The use of local styles are particularly relevant when we determine the value of such a building
  • Buildings dated between 1914 and 1939, which have a particular quality, character or are of local significance
  • Buildings dated after 1939, which are outstanding and represent an important architectural style
  • Buildings that have been documented in recognised publications, for example, ‘Hampshire Treasures’ and ‘Pevsner’, or have received an architectural or planning award

To be eligible for inclusion, only one of the criteria has to be met.

A building or structure will only be added to the Local List if it meets the criteria. If a building or structure meets the criteria there will be no valid reason for omitting it.

There is though one criteria has to be seen as a sick joke

  • Buildings which are good examples of local town planning

as both Aldershot and Farnborough would serve as excellent case studies for planning schools as examples of towns destroyed by bad planning and inappropriate development.

The bottom line

The Council will seek to protect and retain Buildings of Local Importance whenever possible. Demolition should only be agreed where the replacement is of such a high quality that the loss of the locally important building/structure will be adequately mitigated by a development that enhances the character of the local area.

List of Buildings of Local Importance, annexe to the policy document, has many dubious entries, but putting that to on side, what is noticeable is the significant omissions. Buildings that everyone recognises as buildings of historical and cultural value. These omissions beg the question how comprehensive the list?

There is no way of pulling up more information on the buildings listed.

The list gives the impression of a job half done.

There may be other obvious omission. If aware, please add in comments, giving the criteria met and why. With pointers to where more information may be found.

Former Imperial Hotel, corner Barrack Road and Grosvenor, Aldershot

It is not clear whether or not this remarkable building is listed. It stands in marked contrast to the ugly eyesore Westgate development that has been thrown up.

This raises a further protection that is required and necessary, the environs surrounding a historic building.

The former Imperial Hotel was at one time threatened with demolition to create an artificial town square in what is jokingly called Urban Renewal, in reality create an opportunity for greedy developers to make fast buck.

This unusual triangle building pre-dates the Flatiron building in New York.

Wellington Street, Aldershot

Most of the buildings on the opposite side of the street to The Arcade. Or what is left.  A few have their Victorian street fronts.

These building are at least Victorian, possibly much older, possibly c 250 years old. Original fireplaces are in some if not all of these buildings.

Pubs of Aldershot has information on those that were pubs giving an insight on their historical and cultural value.

The row opposite the entrance to The Arcade, currently Paul’s Copy Shop and Aladdin’s Cave, are threatened with demolition as part of redevelopment of the adjacent ugly shopping centre. This would not meet the criterion for loss, and thus demolition should not go ahead.

There is another reason for keeping these buildings which does not form part of the historical criteria for inclusion. Heritage provides premises for local businesses. Most of the businesses on this side of the street are local businesses. Local businesses recycle money within the local economy. National chains, apart from destroying our town centres and turning into Clone Towns, drain money out of a local economy. National Chains are now collapsing, filing for bankruptcy, leaving behind boarded-up shops, as we are already seeing in Aldershot. The town centre is in its final death throes, Aldershot is a deprived area. It is vital we stop money draining out of the local economy. The only chance Aldershot has is with its small retailers who unlike national chains, have a vested interest in seeing the town survive. But we have a council that repeatedly kicks these retailers in the teeth and does everything in its power to drive them out of business.

Could the omission be to facilitate a greedy developer, with planners in their pocket? It would appear so, thus serious maladministration and possible corruption.

Plans to demolish should be quashed. Demolition should not go ahead as it fails to meet the criteria, and will not be replaced by anything to be proud of, or that could in anyway justify that which is to be lost.

Tumbledown Dick, Farnborough Road, Farnborough

The Tumbledown Dick is old coaching inn c 1722, possible older, one of a few isolated building on a desolate heath with a track across the heath running past. Of recent years an important cultural venue in an area that is a cultural desert.

The first known documentary evidence of The Tumbledown Dick appears in a letter dated 30 July 1722, from Thomas Matthew of Cove. The earliest known tenant was William Prior in 1817, and it was also owned by the Lord of the Manor of Farnborough in the 1820s.

It beggars belief that not only is The Tumbledown Dick not listed, but in the town centre prospectus or plan for the town centre it is zoned as a site for development. Again it begs questions of the planning department, maladministration or corruption?

The Tumbledown Dick meets not one but several of the criteria for inclusion.

The Tumbledown Dick is now under threat of demolition for a tacky two-story drive-in McDonald’s. This again would not meet the criteria that could justify demolition, a building of historical, architectural and cultural merit being lost to what amounts to little more than a temporary building (in terms of how long it would last) that in no way can justify the loss.

The council commissioned a report from a consultancy that brags about delivering planning solutions for their private clients, a consultancy that welcomes the relaxation of planning controls which it sees as an obstacle to developers, a consultancy that counts McDonald’s as their clients! The report was so shoddy and superficial, it would not pass muster as a school kids project, not that is if they wanted a pass mark.

Ship Inn, junction Ship Lane and Farnborough Road, Farnborough 

One of the oldest buildings, let alone pubs, in Farnborough. 

Cultural significance the beams from old ships, which are much older than the pub.

The world’s very first World Heavyweight Boxing Match John Heenan (USA) v Tom Sayers (UK) took place here just over a century ago. So important was this match that it was covered by all the London papers, special trips down from London.

The Centenary took place a couple of years ago. It was not marked, no celebrations. The plaque, assuming still there, was obtained and erected by the then landlord, not the council.

The Ship meets the criteria for inclusion.

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