Newsletter No.10

Buildings at Risk

August/ September 2021

Newsletter No.10

A three-year project led by the Cornish Buildings Group and supported by Historic England and the Cornwall Heritage Trust commenced in September 2020. The funding supports a case officer in order to help identify and monitor buildings at risk and seek solutions for neglected, redundant or derelict listed buildings and unlisted buildings.

Cornish Buildings Group
Poynton’s Piece, St Cleer. A recent visit to the site shows that the building is in terminal decline, the end roof section has now completely collapsed.


A recent visit to Poynton’s Piece, near Minions, has showed significant deterioration of the building fabric since we last saw it and as illustrated in Emma Trevarthen’s excellent blog Pontus Piece, St Cleer   We are talking to Historic England, Cornwall Council and the World Heritage Site  about a way ahead.

At Tregarne chapel, St Austell, a planning application for alterations and conversion of the former chapel to four self-contained dwellings and alterations to former Sunday school to create three self-contained flats with under croft parking, is now lodged with Cornwall Council. This project has made the following comments in support of the application

This is an important heritage asset that has been woefully neglected over many years. Several past unrealistic and inappropriate proposals have plunged the building into further decay. Over that time it has been subject to vandalism. The building is both listed and in a Conservation Area and part of the current HLF Townscape Heritage scheme.
      The Cornish Buildings Group have long watched this building and have commented on previous applications. The Cornish Buildings Group led ‘Buildings at Risk Project’ supports this scheme.
     We are pleased that both buildings can be repurposed without their presence in the streetscape being overly compromised. We note that the Conservation Statement and the Design and Access Statement both profess to be offering the safe re-purposing of two buildings of historic and architectural interest, with minimal external alterations. We feel that the physical alterations to the exteriors, although not extensive, are, in parts, quite visually clumsy. Notwithstanding this, it will be a reasonable conservation loss against a huge gain to return this visual amenity back to the locality. The use of
traditional skills and materials is also applauded, we too wonder if railings can be reinstalled around the perimeter of the site.
     We have some reservations about the number of units being provided by this
proposal, which forms and some of the detailing, however we understand that the project’s viability probably depends on such economics and that it is a reduction from previous schemes. We agree with Cornwall Council HEP (Conservation) that addition information on detailing would be welcome.
      A sound scheme that at last will return this building to some of its former glory and return an important heritage asset back to the town.

See the details and have your say by accessing application PA21/05140

Our support for the new listing of the former Treyew School (featured in the blog ‘Treyew, or not Treyew?’ ) was followed up by a message of support from the 20th Century Society. We have provided more information about the buildings to their caseworker in London. 

The Victorian Society have also shown interest in the plight of St Paul’s, Truro. They are now compiling their top 10 endangered buildings, so watch this space. Our e-petition has now reached 2,601 signatures. Support the campaign

We have provided Cornwall Council with examples of buildings at risk for consideration as part of their new heritage strategy and shared best practice with the Georgian Group who are hoping to set up their own buildings at risk register in the future.

Casework Updates

Pomery’s Garage

Our application to get Pomery’s Garage, St Mawes, listed by Historic England was unsuccessful. This is a great disappointment as the building now faces demolition in order to redevelop the site. The Roseland Gig Club and the St Just and St Mawes Heritage Group noted that they ‘fully support and respect the concept of listing buildings of architectural and historic interest’ and felt that ‘too little of the original structure remains intact’ for heritage protection. They added that following a survey of the building by a conservation engineer and quantity surveyor, the building would be better preserved through photographs and documentation than renovation of ‘a building of little architectural interest’. Any future exhibitions in the new building will interpret the building’s history and one or more of the petrol pumps and signs from its time as a garage. Some may argue that it is better to interpret local heritage in a heritage building that is much valued by locals?

Historic England noted in their report that the building was ‘of very strong local interest, its successive uses reflecting the development of traditional local industry, economy and leisure’ but added ‘…the building itself is much altered, and no longer illustrates well either its maritime function or its use as a garage – beyond its forecourt petrol pumps. It falls just short of the criterial for listing, and so cannot be recommended.

The report stated reasons for not listing the building as

Degree of architectural interest:

*the early-C19 building is a reminder of St Mawes’ vernacular fishing architecture, but later interventions have impacted on the interest of the building;

* whilst of a relatively-early date, the motor garage does not have the architectural interest to merit listing in a national context;

* successive additions and modifications to the building’s fabric internally detracts from the interest of the building.

Degree of historic interest:

* the use of the building as a pilchard store or other fishing-related industry is no longer evident in the building’s fabric;

* the use of the building as a motor garage is of local rather than national interest.

Market House, Penzance

Our last newsletter noted that Town Deal money for Penzance would be used to restore the former Market House (Grade 1 listed) to include a market for ‘pre-premises’ retail businesses, as well as office space. To clarify, the project is community /board led and any physical works currently being carried out on the building are being done so by the current owner and leaseholder. These repairs are not funded by the Town Deal which is still in its development stage. Only when the full business case is approved will the Government release the grant. The Market House will benefit from Town Deal funding however the former Ganges restaurant (which was unsuccessful in securing National Lottery Heritage funding) will not.  

Happy Birthday

The buildings at risk project is one year old. Some of our first-year achievements are laid out in the blog post  So far, so good Perhaps our biggest accomplishment to date has been to raise the profile of buildings at risk in Cornwall; evidence for this is suggested by the success of our online blog which has now been accessed over 10,000 times by 6,500 people.

A huge thank you to the volunteers, correspondents and supporters who have contacted us and actively championed the project. If the aim of year one was to establish ourselves and find our voice then the purpose of year two will be to engage further in ongoing conversations and try to broker solutions. We are limited to what we can achieve by the very fact that we are not a statutory consultee, however, we will continue to champion buildings at risk in Cornwall and put pressure on the decision makers in order to improve the condition of historic assets in our towns and villages. 

Northlights, Camborne. Building at risk without any solutions or future.

Year two will also bring a change of look newsletter and we are currently revising our buildings at risk register to include new cases and update old. In October we will unveil our top ten endangered buildings. This will inform our priorities going forward.  

Please keep supporting the project.

How can you follow the project?

Our WordPress blog has proved successful and up until mid- January has received over 3,000 views. Our website has been updated as the project progresses

Updates and alerts will be shared via our Twitter feed @CbgCornwall

To keep up-to-date on the project please follow our blog; when we have something to say you will receive an alert. Or you can follow us on Twitter.

Please support us

We welcome any feedback on any aspect of the project and its aims.

You can play your part in this work by volunteering to support our aims. You can do this by reporting your concerns about historic buildings or valued heritage assets in your area which are either derelict or not being properly looked after. Please contact Paul Holden at

A form that will help us with some background local knowledge is available on our website

Report a building at risk

Local Listing Pilot

Positive moves to give some protection to non-designated heritage assets will come in the Cornwall Local Heritage List Pilot. Cornwall Council were successful in bidding for funding from Central Government for a project to identify and record locally important aspects of Cornwall’s heritage. Redruth and the Clay Country will be the first areas to be considered.

The Clay Country is not well-represented on the National Heritage List despite china clay being extracted in Cornwall since the mid-18th century − in consequence, the industry has had a dramatic effect on the landscape. As a result, the area is home to a range of interesting heritage sites in both urban and rural settings, and there is a strong sense of cultural identity intimately linked with the historic environment. The area proposed includes the communities of Roche, St Dennis, St Enoder, St Stephen and Treverbyn, St Blazey, Par, St Mewan, Luxulyan, Fowey and St Austell, where the project will build on the St Austell Townscape Heritage project. Redruth town centre, selected in 2020 to be Cornwall’s first High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) will be the second pilot area. The HSHAZ is investing in the regeneration of Redruth’s historic town centre and its legacy of handsome 18th and 19th century buildings that reflect the town’s rich heritage. The HSHAZ scheme will help young people in particular become more involved in identifying what makes Redruth special to them, discovering the stories behind the remarkable heritage of their town and how this has shaped their own sense of identity.

Scarcewater chapel, St Stephen’s, an unlisted heritage asset in the heart of clay county. Now in very poor condition, the roof now fully open to the elements. The Historic Environment Record notes ‘Bible Christian chapel, now disused. Small wayside example near the original chapel, presumed to have become the Sunday school, now also disused. Granite rubble with some granite rustication; dry slate roof with crested clay ridge tiles. Round-arched openings with 2-light windows with Y-traceried heads, gabled porch integral with forecourt walls. Round inscribed panel to front gable’.

And finally…let the good times roll

The Cornish Buildings Group Award scheme has long been a showcase for what can be done in achieving great design in new buildings and a platform to show off great conservation and restoration projects. This year’s entries are no exception. The judging is still ongoing (so no spoiler alerts needed) but during August we have visited four significant restoration projects that have revived buildings that were either at risk or in a very poor state. Up for awards this year are Trelew Farm, Mylor (top left); Cusgarne Manor, Truro (top right); Anchor Studios, Newlyn (bottom left) and Rosewarne House, Camborne (bottom right).  The judges were very impressed with the high standards achieved at all these projects and applauded the care and thought that went into their restorations. Of particular note were the traditional craft skills employed at each project. Awards will be announced later in the year but we congratulate the owners of these buildings and the many contractors involved for their dedication and enthusiasm for historic buildings.

Trelew Farm, Mylor
Cusgarne Manor, Truro
Anchor Studios, Newlyn
Roswarne House, camborne

One building at risk that has been championed by the Cornish Buildings Group over many years has been Priory House in Bodmin. Nice to see this restoration project nearing completion.  

Priory House, Bodmin, built in the 1760s formerly the seat of the town’s mayor William Pennington and later Sir Walter Raleigh Gilbert, army officer in the British East India Company.

Thank you for your support

Cornish Buildings Group

Published by buildingsatrisk

Since 1969 the aims of the Cornish Buildings Group have been to stimulate interest, appreciation and knowledge of good building in Cornwall, and to encourage the erection, protection, repair and recording of such buildings. Like any amenities group, we depend on numbers, strength and support of our membership, who provide the force and knowledge that have made us effective for over fifty years. We encourage the protection and repair of historic buildings whether these are listed buildings or simply good examples of traditional building. We aim to encourage good architecture and to raise the general standard of building throughout the county. We hope that our generation may leave behind it buildings which will be looked back on with that same pleasure and enjoyment that we experience when we look at the architecture of past ages.

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