C20 Director Catherine Croft has written to the Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times in response to two articles suggesting that buildings such as Milton Keynes Shopping Centre or Birmingham Central Library are unloved by everyone except The Twentieth Century Society.
Copies of the original articles can be seen via the following links
To the Editor of the Daily Telegraph
Re: Milton Keynes Shopping Centre
Far from being ‘unloved’ by everyone except the C20 Society – as John Bingham’s article suggests, Milton Keynes Shopping Centre is very much loved. Milton Keynes Council supports the building’s listing and local group ‘Xplain’ have stated: ‘People who live in Milton Keynes know that this is exceptional architecture: bold and beautiful as well as functional. Decades ahead of its time, the airy structure reflects the sky and draws in the light of changing seasons. It also captures our identity as a new city which is perhaps the greatest urban success story of modern Britain. ’
Listing would not prevent renovation work, or even a well designed radical makeover. What it would do is make sure that proposals took into account the historic interest of the structure.
And as for the comment made by a representative of the centre’s tenants association ( “what will be next? car parks, airports?” ) he’s behind the times — there are already plenty examples of each of these that have been listed, and quite rightly so. If we just sought to preserve churches and palaces we’d have a very distorted view of the past. The C20 Society has long campaigned for the preservation of the best examples of all types of building, and Milton Keynes Shopping Centre is a prime example of a great building that still works well and can continue to do so.
The Twentieth Century Society
To the Editor of the Sunday Times
Re: Concrete Eyesores
Culture Minister Margaret Hodge has made no secret of her personal dislike for postwar buildings and fails to understand the basic premise of heritage protection in England.
Listing the fabulous Milton Keynes Shopping Building or Birmingham’s brutalist library would not prevent renovation work, or even a well designed radical makeover. What it would do is make sure that proposals took into account the historic interest of these structures rather than seeking to change or even demolish them.
What Richard Brook’s article fails to appreciate is that one of the key strengths of our heritage system is that listing is decided purely on the basis of architectural or historic interest. This lays down a marker and allows a detailed analysis of economic viability and wider social issues to follow. This works very well and any problems that occur, generally reflect lack of skills, experience and confidence of local authority planning departments and committees. The process does not require Margaret Hodge to fix it, although it would benefit from more funding – especially at local authority level.
Director – C20 Society