Heritage bosses drop protection order on British Sugar’s Peterborough offices

The listing for a section of the British Sugar offices has been lifted. ENGEMN00120120907121353
The listing for a section of the British Sugar offices has been lifted. ENGEMN00120120907121353
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A heritage watchdog has dropped its protection for the Peterborough’s so-called Sugar Cube building.

Officials for Historic England say an inspection of the British Sugar-owned structure in Oundle Road has revealed it is not of a high enough quality to be safeguarded.

The 1970s building had been given a grade two listing in February as British Sugar began pulling down the property to make way for a Lidl superstore and 70 homes development on the site, which had attracted opposition from nearby residents.

Now officials have revealed they had not even visited the building before deciding to list it in the wake of concerns from campaigners with the Peterborough Civic Society.

An inspection was only carried out months later by Historic England staff after British Sugar had demanded a review of the decision.

A spokesman for the Government’s Department for Digital Media Culture and Sport, on behalf of Historic England, stated: “The original assessment was made without the benefit of either an external or internal inspection or the usual consultation process as the building was under imminent threat of harm to its architectural and historic interest.

“As an essential part of the review process Historic England took the opportunity to conduct a full inspection, both externally and internally, to assess the building as it survives today.

“On close inspection the architectural and historic interest of the building was considered by Historic England not to meet the high threshold for listing buildings of this date and type.

“In particular the building has undergone alterations and losses of original fabric that are significant for a building of this date and type.”

At the time of the listing, Historic England had claimed the glass cube is ‘a sophisticated and elegant commercial work by Arup Associates.

“It is an important surviving example of an early open-plan office, which successfully employed the most up-to-date technologies in glazing to provide noise and environmental control.”

A spokesperson for British Sugar said: “We are very pleased that, after a careful review process, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has agreed to remove the listing placed on part of our former Peterborough office site.

“We believe this is the right decision and it allows us to proceed with our existing plans.

“We are now progressing our planning application to Peterborough City Council for a mixed-use development on the site.

“Our application is fully compliant with the criteria set out by the council for development on the site, and includes a provision for 30 per cent affordable housing within the scheme.”

Kem Mehmed, a spokesman for the civic society, said: “We are surprised and disappointed at the decision.

“While internal changes may have been made to the building, it is still worth protecting for its external appearance.”

“We did make our feelings known but they don’t seem to have carried any weight.

He added: “I think we have done everything we can.”

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