The demolition of a Grade II-listed cottage at 13 Church Street, Owston Ferry, Doncaster was the result of North Lincolnshire Council’s failure to safeguard the building, reports Britain’s oldest conservation charity, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB).

The building was classified as a dangerous structure in mid August this year and was subsequently demolished. But the SPAB believes the council missed many opportunities over the years to protect the early 18th century cottage.

The loss of this humble historic building, left empty for many years before its sale in 2016, is deeply regrettable. 13 Church Street, as a listed building, should not have been allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair as planning legislation provides local authorities with the statutory powers necessary to make ‘at risk’ listed buildings weather tight, structurally sound and secure from trespassers.

Councils in England and Wales are obliged to notify the SPAB of applications involving the demolition of listed buildings. In this capacity the SPAB urged North Lincolnshire Council to explore all possible avenues to conserve the building rather than allow the demolition of an irreplaceable national asset.

In addition, when the application for demolition reached the SPAB they offered the council expert advice on the repair of the cottage and wanted to discuss taking on the building in order that it could be saved for the future. All offers of help were ignored and the SPAB were denied access to the property to complete a full assessment.

The unnecessary destruction of this charming but unloved cottage has outraged Owston Ferry local, Glyn Brumby: “I objected strongly to the application for demolition. It was a very old building – most likely older than the estimated 18th century and was very close to the church in Owston Ferry making it an area where historical buildings should be valued. I’m extremely disappointed that a listed building has been allowed to be demolished”

SPAB Case Worker on the 13 Church Street case, Joanne Needham says: "The Society was deeply saddened to learn of the recent demolition of 13 Church Street. Since receiving notification of the listed building consent application for demolition earlier this year, we have worked hard to try and save this Grade II-listed building. Legislation and national policy provides a very clear framework for ensuring that the historic environment is properly managed and conserved. Yet this has not proven successful in this case. Questions must therefore be asked, and lessons learnt in order to prevent other historic buildings becoming susceptible to a similar fate. The historic environment is a finite and irreplaceable resource, and once lost it can never be recovered”

13 Church Street was a modest cottage, unassuming but equally as worthy of conservation as many of the country’s grander listed buildings. It was a good example of the vernacular and is believed to be older than its listing states. The council has still to satisfactorily explain why this important piece of local history has been destroyed.

For more information please contact Alison McClary at the SPAB: 020 7456 0908 / alison@spab.org.uk