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May 18 2012

'Getting lost is essential': the Quay brothers on their Leeds art project

Video: From 18 to 20 May, the Quay brothers will turn the whole of Leeds into a stage, as part of the Cultural Olympiad. Prepare for a labyrinth to get lost in

October 31 2011

Heritage prize for the north's only finalist in Lloyd Webber's glitzy new heritage awards

Unpaid workers who have rescued a Leeds church for community use - shifting three full skips of mummified pigeons and their droppings in the process - star in London bash

It's six weeks since the Northerner lamented the lack of finalists from our three regions in Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'English Heritage Angel' awards which celebrate local people's work in protecting historic, interesting or beautiful buildings or landscape.

The fanfare is just that; it doesn't come with funding or the chance to perform in one of the Lord's stage productions, like Connie Fisher who triumphed in How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?

But it draws attention to the project as well as the work of those responsible for the transformation, and that encourages others with money or help in kind to pitch in. And the good news is that our solitary representative among the 16 finalists has...WON!

Yay! Well done the 120 volunteers who are returning the abandoned church of St Margaret of Antioch in Leeds to communal and imaginative use. We ran their prospectus back in September and you can read it here. Better still, get down there and see why they won earlier funding of £700,000 from English Heritage. Maybe you will be volunteer number 121.

The context of these awards is an alarming total of 5,828 buildings on English Heritage's At Risk Register. They include such wonders as Temple Mill in Leeds, which the Northerner also highlighted recently. Places such these simply cannot be lost.

English Heritage goes on to warn that:

Nationally, 3% of grade I and II* listed buildings are at risk

284 listed places of worship are among them

16.9% of England's 19,748 scheduled monuments are also at risk

The number of registered parks and gardens at risk increased from 99 (6.2%) in 2010 to 104 (6.4%) this year

Four of the six registered battlefields at risk are in Yorkshire and the Humber

Of the 7,481 conservation areas that have been surveyed, 516 (6.6%) are at risk.

St Margaret's team got their gong for the best restoration of a place of worship at a ceremony in London this morning, Monday 31 October, featuring the Lord and assorted celebs - Clare Balding, Graham Norton, Michael Winner and Danielle Hope. The other five winners are::

The Smythe Barn at Westenhanger, Hythe, Kent for the best craftsmanship on a heritage rescue
Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol, and St Stephen's, Rosslyn Hill, Hampstead, London, jointly for the best rescue of any other entry from the Heritage at Risk register.

Pleasley Colliery, Mansfield, Derbyshire (nearly northern...) for the best rescue of an industrial building or site
Tyntesfield Orangery in Somerset for the favourite award voted for by English Heritage members and readers of the Daily Telegraph, the awards' media partner.

Lloyd Webber signalled his future support at the award ceremony, saying:

All 16 shortlisted groups were exceptional and the judges had a hard time deciding between them. But in the end the winners stood out for their passion, perseverance and imagination, for the scale of the challenges they had taken on and for the legacy they leave behind – a secure future for beautiful historic buildings which without them could so easily have simply disappeared. I look forward to many others joining their ranks in the years to come.

Another of the judges, the classicist and TV presenter Bettany Hughes says:

The real joy of these awards is that we are recognising the value of the human spirit; our Angels are all men and women who have battled against the odds and who with flair, tenacity, sympathy, and sometimes wild inspiration have never taken 'no' for an answer and have instead laboured to make the world around them richer and better. If I wore hats, I would be in a perpetual state of taking my hat off to them all. We owe them much.

You can watch highlights from the awards ceremony on BBC 2's Culture Show at 6pm this coming Saturday 5 November. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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October 06 2011

Latest Beetham tower block administration leaves '£50 million debt'

What next for the cityscapes of northern England as the super-skyscraper era comes to an end?

There's an instructive piece in North West Business Insider about the mountain of borrowing which underlay those modern landmarks of the North, the Beetham property company's various towers. Rising proudly above Liverpool and Manchester they prove to have been built on the sort of credit which has slid away in the crunch, like sand.

Insider's correspondent David Casey has been reading a report from Baker Tilly who were appointed administrators when a winding-up petition was filed at the High Court in July for Regional Landmark Hotels, formerly called the Beetham Organisation.

This puts the amount owed at more than £50 million and follows previous administrations of other parts of the firm, which saw KPMG sell the iconic Beetham hotels in Manchester and Liverpool in March to Cypriot businessman Loucas Louca for an estimated £65-70 million. The full piece is here.

A similar fate befell Leeds' highest profile developer Kevin Linfoot, whose KW Linfoot firm had the vaulting ambition to design a 54-story glass-clad skyscraper with a 32-story twin called Lumiere. The launch scenes were extraordinary, even for the giddiest moments of the city's property boom, with the French designer Philippe Starck holding court amid stiltwalkers, chocolate-coated women and fireeaters.

Linfoot went into administration 19 months later, in February 2009, and the Lumiere handling company sought liquidation the following years. The site remains an undeveloped plot with plans for a temporary minipark being mulled.The skyscraper neededover £1 million just to pay for planning costs.

The elan of the schemes, built or not, was remarkable but many felt queasy at the scale of lending which inevitably had to underly such vaulting notions. It is hard now to recall an era which saw Leeds planners talking about an avenue of skyscrapers marching up the hill towards the university with 23 applications for towers averaging 35 storeys in the planning system in 2007.

What now? Modest development has survived or is restarting in all the major northern cities, but it will surely be a long time before we see ambition again on the scale of this century's first seven years. Where next for architects and property developers; what advice would you give? Can small be beautiful again? © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

June 17 2010

Rusty Leeds tower: 'best tall building'?

Broadcasting Place is 'up there' - if not in height then in stature - with some of the largest towers in the world

A 23-storey tower in Leeds has been recognised as the 'best tall building' in Europe.

The Independent reports that Broadcasting Place in Woodhouse Lane - which stands less than 70m tall and is made of deliberately rusted steel - has just been bracketed with three megastructures as one of the four best towers erected in 2010.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) decided that the building, designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, was more than equal to some of the largest and most impressive structures built by man.

The other buildings garlanded by the CTBUH are a trio of the usual suspects: the Burj Khalifa in Dubai which, at 828m, is more than 11 times higher than Broadcasting Place; the 163m Pinnacle@Duxton in Singapore and the 366m Bank of America tower in New York.

The award has already caused a lively debate in this office - personally I'm not a great fan of Broadcasting Place, but others think it's a great achievement and puts Leeds on the map.

What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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