The British Heritage Association has condemned plans to demolish Leicester’s Corah factory

Controversial plans to demolish Leicester’s famous Corah factory have been condemned by a major UK heritage group. The Twentieth Century Society (C20) has pondered the ongoing debate over the future of the industrial buildings that were once the heart of the city.

The C20 group has teamed up with Historic England and the Leicester Civic Society to demolish almost the entire former socks factory, known as St Margaret’s Works, on Burleys Way. He believes future generations will regret missing out on a “fantastic opportunity” to preserve and celebrate the city’s industrial heritage.

Developers Cityregen Leicester and Galliford Try Investments want the site to be virtually cleaned to result in 1,143 homes. A planning application for the scene was submitted to Leicester City Council in May.

READ MORE: Plans for Leicester’s Corah factory “would erase” a prized milestone, heritage group fears

St Margaret’s works were once the largest socks manufacturing works in Britain. If the urbanization plan was approved, only three of the historical elements of the place would remain: the façade of the old textile building in the center of the site and two chimneys on its northern edge.

The C20 group has challenged the developers ’argument that decades of neglect and vandalism have made a large-scale renovation of the site impossible. He has accused Cityregen Leicester and Galliford Try Investments of an unfortunate “lack of imagination”.

Coco Whittaker, of C20, described as “symbolic” the promoters’ proposals to preserve a “pair of chimneys and parts of the facade” as heritage elements.

She said: “At C20 we strongly oppose the loss of these non-designated heritage assets (NDHA), especially the 1919 shipping and printing department and the 1937 to 47 horseshoe building, which have architectural merit. The group of buildings are a lasting record of Leicester ‘s historic hosiery industry and are a valuable part of the city’ s heritage. “

He added: “There seems to be no reason why they could not be successfully adapted and reused, with countless examples across the country of old industrial buildings finding a new viable purpose. In fact, the structural engineers themselves applicant have concluded that the shipping and printing service.The department requires a replacement roof, but otherwise it is structurally solid, and the building “Ferratura” was also considered “structurally in good condition.”

“We believe that the site in general represents a great opportunity for the regeneration and creation of heritage-driven sites in line with the current government agenda, and of the kind that is encouraged in the Basic Strategy on the Historic Environment of the city council “.

Mrs Whittaker said of the site’s history: “St Margaret’s Works, on St John Street and Burleys Way, houses a fine collection of surviving industrial buildings, dating from 1865 to the early and mid-20th century. Once a stocking factory operated by Nathaniel Corah & Sons (founded in 1830), it represented the industrial landscape of Leicester and is said to have been the largest factory of its kind in the country during the first half of the century. XX “.

“One of Marks & Spencer’s first clothing partners, Corah was also widely accepted for being critical to the success of retailers in the clothing market,” he added. “After fighting during the 1970s and 1980s, the business sold out in the early 1990s and the factory site closed a few years later, remaining vacant ever since.”

A spokesman for Cityregen Leicester and Galliford Try Investments said earlier that “while we will revive Corah’s site, our proposals also recognize its important history,” adding that “however, we will regenerate the site and offer a scheme. feasible to retain more than our plans propose is not a realistic possibility. “

Addressing the comment, Ms Whittaker said: “We have not seen any evidence to support these claims about the viability of the retention, while the demolition of these buildings would cause serious damage to the historic character and distinction of the city. the promoters to rethink fundamentally, their approach, with a more sensitive, imaginative and environmentally friendly scheme “.

Marshall Oil, also from C20, said it saw no reason why the Corah factory could not be a centerpiece for the area’s wider regeneration.

“Once a famous local slogan said,‘ Leicester dresses the world, ’reflecting the civic pride and confidence of the city’s manufacturing industry,” he said. “While Leicester must look to the future, they can still do so with all due respect and pride in their past. There is no reason why this cannot be a launching pad for this.”

He added: “Money, or lack thereof, is not really the problem. The biggest hurdle is actually lack of imagination. Wonderful places like this are left to ruin and people end up saying, well, why do not condemn it.

“Okay, there may have been some fires and acts of vandalism over the years, but we don’t see anything preventing a renovation of this place that would preserve and enhance its heritage while giving it good use. Demolish the factory of Corah would be a great opportunity. “

A spokesman for Cityregen and Galliford Try Investments said in response to criticism from the heritage group: “The regeneration of the old Corah factory is a fantastic opportunity to create new housing, jobs, economic growth, new pedestrian routes and public space in an abandoned place in the center of the city.

“As a place in ruins and largely empty, which for decades has been screaming for regeneration, it’s time to use it again.”

He said developers had researched all options to preserve more historic industrial buildings.

“We recognize the site’s heritage and preserve key elements, such as the façade of the Old Textile Building and the chimneys at the back,” he said. “Options to retain additional items have been tested for several years, but following expert advice, in all cases, this would have made the scheme unfeasible and could not have been delivered.”

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