Poison gas factory added to list of endangered sites

Reports that a former poison gas factory close to the M40 near Banbury has been added to the register of England's at-risk heritage feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Guardian reports that a pub, a lighthouse, a poison gas factory and a 1960s concrete church have been added to Historic England’s national register of listed buildings in trouble. According to the newspaper, a total of 3.9 per cent of all of the most important Grade I and Grade II* listed buildings are on the register, varying from 2.1 per cent in the South East to 6.9 per cent in the East Midlands and North East. The newspaper reports that types most at risk vary across regions, with commercial sites such as shops and warehouses being most at risk in the North West and coastal defence sites, including Napoleonic-era forts, being endangered in the South East.

The Guardian also reports that a planning"logjam" has contributed to weakened demand for bricks for housebuilding in the last few months, according to the country’s biggest maker of specialist bricks, Michelmersh Brick Holdings. According to the newspaper, the firm’s chief executive, Martin Warner, said that the general election in May and increases to stamp duty for expensive homes had put some projects on hold, "but that delays caused by the planning process were the main reason".

Writing in The Times (subscription required), Clive Aslet, editor-at-large of Country Life magazine, says that the planning system in England is "gridlocked". "Localism rules - but alas, only in theory; in practice communities are powerless to say no," he writes. "At present, the push-me, pull-you of planning delivers the worst of all worlds; unhappiness to nimbys, not enough houses for the chancellor, and misery for those on average incomes who aren’t able to find a home they can afford." He suggests that the housing crisis could be solved "at a stroke" by raising "four or five storeys of housing" on top of out-of-town shopping centres.

The Times (subscription required) also reports that Prime Minister David Cameron has "set the stage for a cabinet showdown over the future of Heathrow after promising that he will decide on a third runway only after consulting feuding colleagues". According to the newspaper, Cameron is to refer the contentious issue to a full cabinet meeting in an attempt to calm fears that opponents are being frozen out.

The Independent reports that "hundreds of green energy companies could be forced out of business in months with the loss of tens of thousands of jobs as the government appears determined to pull the plug on renewable energy". According to the newspaper, senior figures representing wind, solar and tidal power say that "dramatic" subsidy cuts for renewables are scaring away foreign investors and could leave "scores of British firms on the brink of bankruptcy".

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