John Allan was a panellist in NLA’s Breakfast Debate on Hyde Park Cavalry Barracks, on 27th February. Other speakers included Anthony Blee, Sir Basil Spence’s former partner and project architect; Catherine Croft, Director of the 20th Century Society and Elain Harwood, English Heritage.
John supports the listing of the Barracks and has submitted his own case for recommendation to English Heritage. He emphasised the importance of invoking only the specified criteria of eligibility for listing as set out in the DCMS Principles of Selection (March 2010) – namely, architectural and historic interest, and group value. He contends that the Barracks are rich in all three categories, and that such ‘triple scoring’ is rare, especially in such a unique post-war building typology.
Just as important, he argues, is clarity on what considerations are not admissible – including potential disposal value of the site, the merits (or otherwise) of any redevelopment proposals, the number of other listings of an architect’s work and the physical condition of the buildings, particularly if deliberately neglected. It would be vital therefore for the credibility of the designation process for the Minister’s reasons for his eventual decision to be completely transparent.
He dismissed the commonplace view that buildings once listed could not be altered as a product of either ignorance or mischief, and stressed that even if the barracks were not to be listed the assumption that demolition must follow would be unjustifiable both on account of the feasibility of adaptive re-use and also the unconscionable loss of such considerable quantities of embodied energy.