GET-TOUGH CALL ON SAVING OUR HERITAGE; Councils Urged to Use Full Powers

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Byline: CATHERINE JONES

COUNCILS should use existing powers more to help protect conservation areas which are "at risk".

English Heritage made the call as it chose Liverpool's Seel Street to launch a new campaign yesterday.

The heritage watchdog has carried out a survey of authorities across the UK to see which historic areas they believe are most under threat.

Liverpool has 34 Conservation Areas, a designation which aims to protect parts of the city that have special architectural or historic interest, of which eight are deemed to be "at risk".

Some of the worst threats to these historic areas include plastic windows and doors, satellite dishes, "street clutter", alterations to fronts, roofs and chimneys, and traffic calming measures.

English Heritage is calling on councils, local groups and residents to work together to improve the areas.

English Heritage's officer for Merseyside, Graeme Ives, said: "Only 13% of local authorities use the full powers they have got available to them.

"There are extra controls or ways of managing the small changes that can be made to an area. We want councils to be more proactive with that and also work in a more co-ordinated way when it comes to streets and spaces..

"Through this survey we know, for example, that 80% of conservation areas in this country have been affected by plastic windows.

"We want people to be encouraged to think about alternatives. Repairs are often cheaper than replacement. If you've got the original windows and they can be looked at by a joiner and repaired, that's better than ripping them out and replacing them. …