Historic England’s Advisory Committee visits Ron’s Place

Martin Wallace, Wirral Arts and Culture Community Land Trust (WACCLT) trustee and advocate for Ron’s Place reports:

”Despite the unusually snowy conditions in Birkenhead, today (16th January) I had the pleasure of showing Ron’s Place to members of the Historic England Advisory Committee (HEAC). This was a continuation of our efforts to get Ron’s Place Listed Building status; something we feel will help protect the site into the future and enable us to lever the necessary funding.

We initially launched our application for Listing as a way to scare off potential buyers when the building was suddenly put up for sale back in February 2023. The truth is, merely applying for Listed status doesn’t give a building any protection at all, but our tactic worked, and some potential buyers were sufficiently concerned about the potential for red tape that they didn’t bother to bid against us at auction.

The HEAC group in the Lion Room with Conservation Architect Bernadette Bone, far left, and Martin Wallace, next to the lion fireplace, wearing orange beanie.

Then, in mid-April, after our initial paper submission, officers from the North West arm of Historic England (HE) made a visit and wrote a detailed report that seemed to us to be very favourable. Usually, by now, we would have had a decision about an application. However, because Ron’s Place is such an unusual site, with no precedents and few meaningful comparisons, HE decided they could only make a proper decision by allowing members from HEAC to see it for themselves and hear more about how Ron’s Place fits with other ‘outsider’ environments, both nationally and internationally. This was something I was able to do having seen many sites around the world and spoken to many creators.

The next step is that the full HEAC meets on February 1st to consider presentations from the various HE regions about all the applications they are recommending. If HEAC then makes a positive recommendation, the final decision is made by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, which is currently Liz Fraser. So, there’s still a way to go, but we’re feeling hopeful and that gives a tingly glow. Please cross your fingers and toes for us.”

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