If Chiswick were demolished, what would you save?

Apart from people, naturally. (Ok and dogs and cats). Hounslow Council has a list, and in this instance it’s a good thing, if you care about your heritage. Every council keeps a ‘Local List’ of buildings and sites which don’t make the grade as ‘listed buildings’ (considered to be of national significance by Historic England) but sites which are ‘recognised for their contribution to the local character and distinctiveness’.

The Local List was created in Hounslow in 1997 and hasn’t been updated since, so while many of the obvious sites are on it, there are some surprising omissions and Hounslow’s new conservation officer Sophia Laird is on a mission to put that right. Sophia is an American who studied Architectural History at Edinburgh University and came to Hounslow from the Victorian Society eight months ago, so she knows her Arts and Crafts from her Gothic Revival and her finials from her transoms. “We’re keen for the community to nominate buildings” she told me; “we’ve set out some criteria as guidance and will ask people to explain how the site they’re nominating meet the criteria.”

The Roebuck – On the list

If they do meet the criteria and are added to the List, will that save them if a big developer comes along with a demolition notice, waving their cheque book? “While being on the Local List doesn’t give them statutory protection, it does make you think a bit more” Hounslow’s Chief Planning Officer Marilyn Smith told me. You can nominate a site because of its architectural quality, historic interest, its ‘group or townscape interest’ or its social significance. That could mean just that somebody interesting lived there and ‘site’ could mean an old horse trough, a lamp post or modern statue as well as a building.

The current list includes quite a lot of Chiswick High Rd, including the Old Police Station and Old Fire Station, the Roebuck and the Packhorse & Talbot pubs, but not the Old Cinema, Chiswick Library or George IV pub.

The Old Cinema – Not on the list

The council gives quite detailed notes on what the criteria for what ‘local character and distinctiveness’ might be. For example, ‘Architectural significance’ might include ‘assets which are good examples of local or vernacular architecture’ or ‘are attributed to a noted local or regional architect, designer or craftsman’. ‘Historical significance’ could mean a site or structure which illustrates ‘important aspects of local social, economic, cultural or military history’ or ‘demonstrate a historic association with a locally important person, family or group’ as well as ‘sites or structures which are important for their age or rarity’ or ‘an important survival of the borough’s industrial heritage’. ‘Group and townscape significance’ might mean a landmark, an example of ‘architectural unity’ such as a terrace or a square or ‘locally important green spaces or public spaces’. ‘Social significance’ might mean an association with ‘local communal, symbolic, or spiritual significance’, ‘distinctive cultural heritage such as art, literature, music or film or ‘buildings which have a history of being used for important community events’.

To see the full description of what the Local List entails and nominate a structure or site, go here.

Here’s a list of the buildings in Chiswick which are already on the Local List:

Bolton Road / Number 3

Bolton Road / Number 21

Chiswick High Road / No.2-34 (even)

Chiswick High Road / No. 41-65 (odd)

Chiswick High Road / No.62-68 (even)

Chiswick High Road / No. 109-113 (odd)

Chiswick High Road / Number 122 (The Roebuck Public House)

Chiswick High Road / Packhorse and Talbot Pub

Chiswick High Road / 197-199 Former Fire Station

Chiswick High Road / 208 Former Police Station

Chiswick High Road 254-280 (even)

Chiswick High Road / The Gunnersbury (formerly The John Bull Public House)

Chiswick Lane / Number 4

Grove Park Road / Grove Park Hotel and Public House

Grove Park Road / No. 25-35 and 41-57

Grove Park Road / No. 68, 70, 72

Grove Park Road / St Paul’s Church and Vicarage

Grove Park Road / Isis Court

Grove Park Road / 23 Clifton Works

Hartington Road West / Hartington Court 1-52 (block of flats)

Hartington Road / Number 17

Spencer Road / 1 Royston Court

Spencer Road / 11-13 Churchward House

Spencer Road / 14-22 even

Spencer Road / Gardener’s Cottage (off Spencer Road)

And here’s where you go to find out if a building has been listed by Historic England