Questions over St Michael’s plans after Listing


The two-storey rope walk: “a rare survival”

Buildings proposed for demolition under controversial plans for the St Michael’s Trading Estate have been Listed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, on the advice of English Heritage.  The move raises doubts about the future of the planning applications conditionally recommended for approval by West Dorset District councillors last year.

The existing Grade II Listing for the former warehouse building at 40 St Michael’s Lane has been extended to cover the adjoining buildings at the rear, including the distinctive two-storey rope walk and the Lilliput building.  Buildings are Listed for their special architectural or historic interest, and are legally protected from demolition without specific consent.

Councillors on West Dorset District Council’s Development Control (Planning) Committee went against the advice of their specialist officers in June 2012 when they voted to support an Outline application for redevelopment of the trading estate and an application for Conservation Area consent to demolish a number of buildings on the estate, including some of those now Listed.

The consents have not yet been issued by council officers, pending negotiations over a series of conditions.  The Listing of the Lilliput and neighbouring buildings may mean that the applicants (Estate landowners Hayward & Co.) will be required to submit new applications.

The West Dorset District Local Plan states (Policy SA18) that “Development requiring the total or substantial demolition of a building listed as being of special architectural or historic importance will not be permitted apart from in very exceptional circumstances and, in any case, not unless genuine attempts have been made without success to continue the present use or to find a suitable alternative use for the building.”

The application to List the buildings was submitted to English Heritage in late 2012, together with applications to List the Bridport Industries Building, the Stover Works Building, the Red Brick Café, and the covered rope walk at the north western end of the Estate.  These other buildings have not been selected for Listing, following a thorough assessment by English Heritage specialists, who acknowledged their local importance historically, but considered them to be of less than national or regional significance.

The buildings adjoining 40 St Michael’s Lane have been Listed as “an important survival associated with a highly-significant phase in the development of Bridport’s net and cordage industry”, and on the grounds that “the buildings define the very essence of the net and cordage industry that developed in Bridport and show interesting incremental changes relating to production”, while “the two-storey covered walk is an especially rare survival”.

The full Listing entry can be seen at

The Bridport Area Development Trust has welcomed the Listing, and although disappointed that the other buildings have not been selected, recognises that these already have significant protection, being designated as locally important within the Bridport Conservation Area.

The BADT was one of many objectors to Haywards’ planning applications in 2012.  The trustees have indicated a willingness to work in partnership with the landowners and others on an alternative approach to the restoration, regeneration and development of the St Michael’s Estate – an approach which they argue “would promote longer term regeneration and investment opportunities as opposed to the short term residential approach currently being pursued.  The character, layout and buildings on St Michael’s Trading Estate, recognised as nationally significant in the history of the local industry, are an important part of this heritage which the BADT believes would be crucially diminished by the existing plans.”

The BADT understands that the landowners and West Dorset District Council are considering the implications of the Listing decision.