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Kendal's County Offices granted Grade II listed status
9:24am Wednesday 20th March 2013 in News
KENDAL’S County Offices have been awarded Grade II listing by English Heritage – officially marking it out as a building of special architectural or historic interest.
The landmark building has been owned by Cumbria County Council since 1974 after originally being designed for Westmorland County Council in the 1930s.
Completed as the Second World War began, the County Offices were designed by architect Verner O Rees.
The venue is where county councillors often hold their meetings.
But not every councillor is happy about the plan, with one saying he had reservations about the award.
English Heritage's report outlines that the building is a key landmark in the town and that: 'This is a handsome civic building of refined proportions. The stripped Classical style exterior makes good use of local materials... [this] is always important with municipal buildings and contributes to a sense of character and civic pride.
"Beyond this, adornment is provided by the lead-clad picturesque Scandinavian-style cupola crowning the roof, which is attractive and effective."
Rees, who died in 1966, was a respected designer of national renown and also a former President of the Royal Architectural Association.
The building is depicted on the Fourth Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1938 and, with the exception of the addition of a ramp to the main entrance, two small stores buildings in the courtyards and an extension to the rear to accommodate part of the emergency control building, its footprint remains unaltered.
The report also notes that: "The office accommodation was also planned with an inherent flexibility" stating that the design has "stood the test of time and significant alteration has been unnecessary."
Coun Stewart Young, Deputy Leader of Cumbria County Council and Cabinet member for property, said: "The County Offices have been a landmark building in Kendal since it was built and having it Grade II Listed by English Heritage shows its architectural importance to Kendal and its residents."
However, County councillor James Airey said: "Whilst listed buildings do have benefits this case will be disastrous for local tax payers.
"The higher maintenance costs coupled with tighter restrictions on energy saving initiatives will undoubtedly squeeze the County Council when we already have to make £50 million savings over the coming years."
He said listing the building also puts a 'massive stop sign' on any other future potential use for the site such as low cost housing or employment space.