Beeston Maltings: A Guest Post from Beeston Civic Society

At Mayfest, I had a very interesting chat with Barbara Selwood, of Beeston and District Civic Society. An area I found particuarly interesting involved the recently arisen issue of the Maltings, down by The Vic. I was aware there are serious, and not entirely great, plans for the site but she explained the full story, and thought you’d be interested to. She sent me this piece, that I print in it’s entirety, originally published in the Civic Society’s newsletter. Let me know your ideas on saving it. Over to Barbara.

The big ugly, yet majestic, building of the Maltings has been derelict since 2001.  Beeston & District Civic Society managed to organise a visit to it just before it closed.

David Wilson Homes put in a planning application in 2008 as phase 2 for the development off Queen’s Road. This included demolition of the Maltings, but they withdrew it because it was “uneconomical to pursue”.  Following that both Broxtowe Borough Council and B&D Civic Society applied to English Heritage for listing in 2009, but to no avail.  (We had not realised that 6 months previous to us, BroxBC had also applied for listing).

We then decided that if the building could not be listed, the next best thing was to have it included in a Conservation Area.  A sub committee was set up from both the Civic Society and Local History Society.  We looked up the history, gathered oral information from local people, took photos and were able to present a report to Broxtowe Borough Council in September 2010.  We had an immediate reply to say it would be considered, BUT it was inappropriate to include the Maltings because, “previous analysis of the building has shown that it is not capable of economic conversion due to the low ceiling heights etc and previous applications on the site have proposed demolition. A recent suggestion for listing was declined.”

In 2010 we asked Derek Latham, of Lathams Architects, for advice and he presented us with a feasibility study early 2011.  It highlighted both the positive aspects and the difficulties with the site.  As a follow-up, in summer 2011, various representatives from Lathams, B&D Civic Society, County Heritage Team, etc visited the site. With us was Amber Patrick, UK’s expert in Maltings.  She noted the iron columns and their positions, etc.  It was when she went to Nottinghamshire Archives in the September that she saw the layout of the columns etc for the early pneumatic maltings on the archive plan of 1898 – unchanged.  With this important evidence we proceeded to re-apply to EH for listing.  Unfortunately it was refused again, and even with an appeal we had no success.

That took us to early this year. Unbeknown to us, Heineken, concerned about the safety issue due to lack of use of the building and the increasing trespassing, vandalism and metal theft and therefore the increased liability risk, decided, that after the hot dry summer last year, the building needed to be demolished.  They put in an application for prior notification of proposed demolition in January, but failed to include sufficient information, so eventually a notice was placed on the gateway of Beeston Maltings, dated22 March 2012 with the demolition due to start on 7 May 2012.

As a result of the notice, the media came into play and local residents and others became aware of the situation.  We contacted County councillors, Borough councillors, Broxtowe council officers, Notts county Heritage Team, Latham’s architects, and many of the local community contacted us.  But the result was NO.  Broxtowe council was not willing to designate the area including the Maltings, a Conservation Area at short notice.  They recognise it is an important Heritage Asset, but in the current economic climate and no developers forthcoming to convert it, there is no way forward other than demolition.

Suggestions have been made by local residents that maybe it could be an art gallery, theatre, museum or such, but without a financial benefactor such visions could not proceed.  In any case, it is designated in the Local Plan for 56 dwellings, and 56 dwellings lost from this site could well mean 56 more dwelling on Green Belt site, but weighing up Heritage Asset versus Green Belt cannot be equated!

In the absence of a “White Knight in Shining Armour” coming forth to save it, it will be demolished, BUT, (hopefully) with the help of a grant from Broxtowe council, we are proceeding with contacting a professional archaeological photographer to make a full record of the building for posterity, a hard copy of which will be deposited at Beeston Library and the actual digital copy most likely at Nottinghamshire Archives, also with the Heritage Environmental Record at County.

Barbara Selwood