The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Middleton Hall, University of Hull
Middleton Hall, side elevation, University of Hull

Heritage breakdown – delays in listing system threaten Leslie Martin masterpiece

The Twentieth Century Society is extremely concerned about imminent plans to radically alter and extend Middleton Hall by Sir Leslie Martin, a post war listed building at the University of Hull.

The future of Middleton Hall (1965-7) will be decided on 30th July by Hull City Council’s planning committee. A highly damaging scheme has a recommendation for approval, with backing from English Heritage.

We first put forward Middleton Hall for listing in 2005, but our application was not progressed. In 2013, we were told by a local resident that a major scheme of extensions and alterations had been given planning permission. Although the listing application had been registered by English Heritage, they chose not to comment on the planning application proposals, which included a large exterior plant enclosure at ground floor level, major extensions to the front facade including a new cafe and entrance lobby, re-modelling the auditorium and irreversible changes to the plan form of the building.

We asked English Heritage to expedite the listing application as matter of urgency. We were delighted that it was, however listing does not seem to be delivering the protection it should.

The University is now seeking listed building consent for their plans. Unfortunately they have not made significant modifications or sought professional heritage advice, and there is no Conservation Management Plan to safeguard the building’s special interest. We feel very strongly that the plans in their current form will cause substantial harm to the special interest of the building.

English Heritage has been consulted, and is not objecting to the listed building consent application. We fear that the delay in the listing process has led to compromises in the subsequent consultations over listed building consent.

Catherine Croft, Director of Twentieth Century Society said: “Sir Leslie Martin was a great, but under recognised, twentieth century architect and teacher. His work still awaits rigorous study. The proposals threaten to irrevocably compromise the architecture of Middleton Hall. It would be inconceivable to treat a listed building of an earlier century in this way. The University is jeopardising the value of its own heritage, and English Heritage is not standing up for the special interest of this building. ”

“English Heritage needs an injection of resources to speed up the assessment of outstanding listing cases – particularly for vulnerable buildings like this, where the architectural value is not fully understood.”

There are a further two very important twentieth century buildings on Hull University’s campus – the Larkin Building (Arts building), linked to Middleton Hall, also by Leslie Martin (1965-7) and the Gulbenkian Centre (Drama department) by Peter Moro and Partners (1969). They urgently need assessing for listing by English Heritage.