The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Shredded Wheat Factory, Nabisco, by Louis de Soissons, 1926, Welwyn Garden City, c. Elain Harwood
Shredded Wheat factory, Welwyn Garden City © Elizabeth Hopkirk

Threat to demolish Shredded Wheat silos

The Twentieth Century Society is very concerned about the latest proposals to demolish 27 silos on the site of the former Nabisco Shredded Wheat factory at Welwyn Garden City.

The avant-garde factory – including a three-storey production building and boiler house – was designed by Louis de Soissons in 1925 and developed in several phases up until the late 1950s. The first group of 18 silos (in six bays of three) were built in 1928, with 27 more added a decade later.

The production hall, grain house and all the 45 silos were listed Grade II in 1981. However, all these buildings have been vacant and unused since 2008.

Since 2008, the framework for regenerating the site has focused on residential use, the re-use of the listed structures and on ensuring that new development is restricted to five storeys. Specifically, the Council’s policy states that the factory silos should be preserved as a landmark feature ‘with no competing development in the local context’.

In January 2012 Welwyn Hatfield Council turned down the redevelopment application by the site’s owner Spen Hill (a subsidiary of Tesco) because it failed to justify the need for retail.

During previous consultations C20 has welcomed proposals to re-use the factory, but we were concerned that there was no beneficial use proposed for the silos and that the views of both the silos and factory would be lost from the south west.

The latest proposals from the developer have addressed some of these issues – reducing the height of adjacent buildings to five storeys and preserving the view of the site from Welwyn Garden City station.

Most significant is that the change of use proposals for the site would see the ‘original’ group of silos converted into a hotel, with residential units on the top floor. The design of this is innovative and sympathetic to the listed silos. However, this positive development is unfortunately offset by the significant loss of the other 27 ‘non-original’ silos.

The C20 Society remains concerned that the sense of monumentality of the Shredded Wheat factory site will be adversely affected by these new development proposals.