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Sad saga of Heeley National School

The former Heeley National School building
The former Heeley National School building
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At long last the sad saga of the Heeley National School has come to the fore and all praise to Sheffield Newspapers for making it their front page headline feature, (Sheffield Star, May 4).

Hallamshire Historic Buildings attempted to get the building listed in 2014/5 but bafflingly were rejected outright. This is a rare example of a school from the early 19th century and of great local historic interest but the powers that be seem to think not.

After our Society had a Star Letter on April 11, we decided to try again as we have heard that educational establishments are being looked upon in a new light.

So on Sunday, April 22, we spent an afternoon preparing a case for its listing and duly submitted it. Before lunchtime on Monday 23, we had received a rejection.

They obviously had spent a hell of a long time studying it, we think we’re talking minutes rather than hours.

Our Society has obtained listed building status for many of Sheffield’s buildings over the years and I personally have written many letters. However ,we are now encouraged to apply online and we despair at the new system which Historic England (formerly English Heritage) has now introduced.

Try it for yourself, but we would suggest that you get a degree before you attempt to jump through the tortuous hoops. Before you start there is a box to tick if you fancy speeding things up, but it will cost you a fee of between £1,000-£2,000, not many people are that keen.

Finally, when you get nearly to the end of the third degree questioning you’ll be asked if the building is under immediate threat. If the answer is No, then you are told, ‘We are therefore unlikely to process your application if the building or site is not currently under threat’ i.e. don’t bother going any further! There could hardly be more disincentives to obtain success and we are seriously beginning to wonder if the idea all along is to get you to give up.

In recent times our rejections have included the Georgian Cowmouth Farm at Norton (twice) and in this instance EH described it as ‘Tudorbethan’ (eh?) – must have been looking at the wrong building. They also refused the rare Newton Chambers Water Tower and EW Mountford’s stable block and gardener’s cottage behind Grade II listed Goddard Hall on the Northern General Hospital site. Both have been demolished.

Meanwhile, we’re constantly reading of buildings from the 1960s, 70s and 80s being awarded listed building status.

Has Historic England lost the plot or, as the late lamented Terry Wogan used to say – ‘Is it me?’

Howard Greaves

Chairman Hallamshire Historic Buildings