Call to upgrade listed status of India Buildings to stop “vandalism”
BRITAIN’S leading heritage campaigner is demanding the listed status of Liverpool’s India Buildings is upgraded to halt the “vandalism” of owner Green Property.
Dr Gavin Stamp, former chairman of the influential Twentieth Century Society, said he was “astonished” India Buildings, one of the “finest of their sort” in Britain, was not already Grade II* listed.
As revealed in the Liverpool Post last week, six bronze and glass-fronted plaques on India Buildings’ Water Street entrance were illegally removed by Green Property without planning permission so advertising banners could be erected instead.
English Heritage North West regional director Henry Owen-John said: “I was dismayed to learn of the removal of the bronze plaques.”
A private application has been made to upgrade India Buildings’ listing, said English Heritage’s Graeme Ives.
The row has spread to a possible move to close the Grade II listed Holt’s Arcade which bisects India Buildings and has five out of eight shops empty.
Wayne Colquhoun, of the arcade’s Circa 1900 antiques shop, has already collected 600 signatures in four days for his SOS – Save Our Shops petition.
However, Green Property said there had been a “terrible misunderstanding” and that it was only temporarily removing the bronze plaques.
The plaques are integral to architect Herbert Rowse’s design, built in 1923-37 as headquarters for the shipping magnate Alfred Holt’s Blue Funnel Line, which cannot be altered.
Mike Tapp, Green Property director, based in London, said: “Our intention was always to put the plaques back.”
But Dr Stamp is not mollified and said: “I am horrified to learn of what they propose for India Buildings.
“Herbert Rowse is one of Liverpool's great architects, and the commercial blocks he designed in the 1920s are the finest of their sort in Britain.
“I have no doubt at all that the listing of India Buildings should be upgraded to II*.
“The owners must be complete idiots if they cannot see the potential of the noble and elegant shopping arcade – also one of the best of its sort.”
Mr Tapp said: “We’re serious about getting big tenants back into India Buildings and were very disappointed to lose the Criminal Records Bureau and Weightmans solicitors.
“We’re committed to spending capital money and have consent for modernisation and changes to the fifth floor.
“We’ll be launching the second floor as a hub initiative with short, flexible lets.
“It’s a struggle to get retailers into Holt’s Arcade as it’s not a destination, so we want to put building management offices in there as a stop-gap.
“There are no plans to close the Brunswick Street entrance or public access.”