17 September 2021

Historic tower just handed listed status to be demolished this weekend

17 September 2021

A piece of industrial heritage, which was only granted listed building status last week, is to be demolished on Sunday after new Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries overturned the decision.

The Dorman Long Tower, a 1955 brutalist concrete coal bunker, had been given Grade-II status by Historic England and was considered a Teesside landmark.

But the Tory Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen appealed to the body and to the Secretary of State, claiming it was in a poor state of repair and it would hold up major redevelopment plans of the former Redcar steelworks.

Nadine Dorries (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

Earlier on Friday, he announced his appeal had been successful, and his office later announced the tower was one of three buildings that would be flattened in the early hours of Sunday.

Only seven days before, Historic England had granted the tower Grade II-Listed status – a decision Mr Houchen said was a mistake.

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: “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.

“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.”

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.

Local residents were warned to expect explosions lasting around 10 seconds between midnight at 2am on Sunday and the mayor’s office, responsible for the Teesworks redevelopment site, apologised for any inconvenience.

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