Warehouse and power station among modern buildings added to Heritage List

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A high tech warehouse in Swindon and a concrete electricity substation in Sheffield are among a number of buildings that have been added to the National Heritage List for England.

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Along with a Cold War bunker in Gravesend and a steel-framed private house in Tunbridge Wells, the modern structures have been listed by Heritage Minister Ed Vaizey on the advice of English Heritage.

The buildings, some of which were established as recently as 1980, join the castles, wreck sites, battlefields and monuments that already make up the National Heritage List.

The Spectrum Building in Swindon, formerly the Renault Distribution Centre, is listed at Grade II*.

Designed by Sir Norman Foster, one of the most prominent contemporary architects in Britain, the building features high tech architecture such as yellow steel ‘umbrella masts’ and a yellow roof around the single-storey glass-walled warehouse.

It provided a futuristic backdrop to scenes in the 1984 James Bond film, A View to a Kill.

Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest. Only 5.5 per cent of listed buildings are Grade II*.

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Meanwhile the electricity substation in Moore Street in Sheffield, built in 1968 during the radical post-war regeneration of the city, has been also been listed at Grade II.

Designed by Bryan Jefferson, the bold concrete structure was designed to help revitalise the city after it was badly bombed.

Gravesend Civil Defence Bunker has also been listed at Grade II as a rare surviving example of a purpose-built civil defence control centre. It was a command post in the event of a Soviet air attack during the Cold War.

Operational from 1954 until 1968, it has now been restored and is open to the public on occasion.

The fourth building added to the Heritage List is Capel Manor, a steel-framed private house in Tunbridge Wells.

Designed by Michael Manser, one of the small number of architects in the 1960s and 1970s who explored the possibilities of steel-frame construction for domestic architecture, the house is listed at Grade II*.

The steel frame is exposed and the glass walls are bronze-tinted with a flat timber roof.

Sheffield electricity substation credit Jefferson Sheard Architects

Dr Alison Hems, senior lecturer in heritage and applied history at Bath Spa University, told historyextra: “Listing recent buildings is really important. Heritage is all around us, and our ideas of heritage are always changing. It’s not just about buildings that are 50 or 1,000 years old.

“It’s important to protect recent buildings because their use could be changed by an individual or organisation that doesn’t appreciate their potential significance.

“Listing a building gives us a chance to pause. It’s not to say that building won’t ever be adapted, but it means you have to think about how you’re going to do that.

“And the good thing about recent buildings being listed is that it attracts attention to the debate. Whether the response is favourable or not, it’s a really good way of getting people more interested in the places around them.

“It’s not just about the great castle or historic house. It may be something you pass on your way to work every day.”

Dr James Pardoe, senior lecturer in heritage management at the University of Chester, said: “Heritage is not solely about the distant past and should not be concerned with the norms of what is considered to be aesthetically pleasing.

“Our built heritage is to do with significance; consequently significant structures need to be protected to give us (and future generations) knowledge of how societies function.

“There are far too many examples of the loss of our heritage because they were not fashionable at a given time.

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“Buildings tell us about who we are and how we live our lives. These structures all do that and therefore need protecting.”