AN appeal to save one of the last E.H. Lingen Barker designed village schools from being demolished has been quashed by the Court of Appeal.

SAVE Britain’s Heritage is disappointed that the Court of Appeal has found against their legal objections to the planned demolition of the historic former school in Garway, Herefordshire.

“This handsome Victorian building – which already has planning permission for conversion into flats – is now set to be demolished,” said a spokesman.

SAVE – alongside a strong local group – fought the proposals at the planning application stage and doggedly followed the case through the High Court and Court of Appeal. “It’s yet another example of buildings that are important to local communities and attractive features of towns and villages being wastefully lost under so-called ‘Permitted Development’ Rights – a planning loophole which allows owners to side-step normal planning controls,” they added.

They were backing calls to amend the forthcoming Levelling Up Bill to remove this ‘right to demolish’ from Permitted Development Rights. According to figures published by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), over 50,000 buildings are demolished every year, resulting in huge environmental costs in terms of wasted resources, and needless loss of historic buildings – including those identified on local heritage lists. They might not be nationally listed or in conservation areas, but many of these buildings add special character and interest to streets and squares in neighbourhoods throughout the UK.

The Court of Appeal decision follows a sustained campaign against the decision by Herefordshire Council in April 2022 to allow demolition of the 1877 school building in the village of Garway under a planning loophole called Permitted Development Rights (PDR).

SAVE launched Judicial Review proceedings in response to the decision, arguing that the council had failed to properly assess whether the school was unsafe or uninhabitable, a key test when deciding whether to permit applications under PDR.

In order for the demolition of a building to be allowed under PDR - a planning mechanism which bypasses the need for full planning permission - a building must not have been rendered unsafe or uninhabitable as a result of the owner’s own neglect (action or inaction). SAVE’s view is that the council did not apply the correct test when considering whether the PDR right to demolition applied to Garway School.

SAVE had previously supported the council’s refusal of the owner’s first application to demolish the buildings in 2021 and its subsequent and detailed application to Historic England for the buildings to be granted protection by heritage listing. Historic England ultimately decided not to list the building but did emphasise the quality of the structure as being of high local historic and architectural interest.