Your report on the fire at Loxley Old Chapel is a sharp reminder of the risks to which listed buildings are exposed when left neglected for years.
Buildings aren’t listed at random, but because they are judged to be of national importance, whether architecturally, historically, or both.
As such they should surely be treated with respect.
Yet the protections available are slight indeed, and there is no requirement for their owners to look after them.
The reserve powers of local authorities are relatively few, require complex processes to implement and usually require the authority to meet the costs up-front.
In Sheffield, we can see the results of this state of affairs, whether at Loxley or at the Salvation Army Citadel or the Old Town Hall, to name just the most prominent examples.
All these are in private hands, have been empty for years and are not being kept in even basic repair.
The only comfort is that the law doesn’t allow an owner to cite the neglect he has permitted as a reason for demolition – although that provision is getting harder to enforce; too many Grade 2 buildings are being lost up and down the land.
Whatever the motives of those who torched Loxley Chapel, responsibility for the building is ultimately on the owners.
Have they anything to say to Sheffielders about the state of a listed building which is in their stewardship?
Have they sought out the help available for restoring historic buildings?
There are numerous sources of funds.
What are their intentions for the chapel’s future?
Will they now restore it?
What have they to say to the residents who have had to live with the consequences of neglect for so long?
I hope we get a statement from them soon, though I’m not holding my breath.