Historic Midland brewery buildings hit by arsonists have been saved after council chiefs refused to grant consent for their demolition.
Langley Maltings, an imposing Grade II-listed Victorian structure in Western Road, Oldbury, faced dramatic changes, with developer D and S Enterprises seeking to pull down two of three key structures on site as part of a housing plan.
But a campaign by the Victorian Society and the Ancient Monument Society, backed by English Heritage, has managed to fend off the bulldozers, with Sandwell Council planning officers denying listed building consent for the scheme.
Dr Terry Daniels, chairman of Langley Local History Society, also said he believed the 134-year-old buildings could, and should, be salvaged.
The buildings were severely damaged by an arson attack in September 2009 as offenders overpowered security guards to set fire to it. Three outlet towers were destroyed, along with half of the roof. Until it closed in 2006, Langley was among the last five maltings using the traditional ‘floor’ malting process.
Grains of barley were doused in water, spread over the floor, and turned regularly to ensure even germination.
A report by structural engineers working for the developer supporting demolition came under fire from English Heritage. A Sandwell Council report, refusing consent for the scheme, said: “While accepting the factual observations of this [structural engineers’] report, English Heritage strongly disagree that this justifies demolition, given that no evidence has been provided to substantiate that the building is incapable of re-use.”
Despite some unstable masonry, repairing the building would be ‘relatively straightforward’, an engineer working for English Heritage said.
The council report concluded: “The proposed demolition of a large element of the listed building will result in a substantial loss of significance to these historic maltings. No evidence has been submitted to demonstrate that this substantial loss will be outweighed by substantial public benefits, in the form of a new proposal to regenerate the site.”