Mr King sent your newspaper a picture of the dilapidated brick kiln in South Lynn and raised a number of questions. The brick kiln was listed Grade II in March 2003 after a request by the King’s Lynn Civic Society to English Heritage was upheld.
The responsibility for the maintenance and care of listed buildings and monuments rests entirely with the owners. In the case of the brick kiln, the owner of the land is the borough council, which is trying to sell that plot for development and it is their responsibility to look after it, but it needs more than simple maintenance. It needs a scheme of restoration and interpretation with provision for visitors to appreciate its history. It is unlikely that scarce public money will support such an ambition.
The brick kiln needs new owners with the resources and imagination to make something of it but it is bang in the centre of the plot which restricts development uses.
There is no duty, either under statute or at common law, on the owner or occupier of a building to do anything to stop it falling into a state of advanced decay. Although there is encouragement from central government to keep a listed building in good repair, there is no actual duty on owners to do so and it is difficult to see how any such duty would be enforced where a person or company was unable or unwilling to comply other than by compulsory purchase by the local authority.
It is sad to see the brick kiln in the state it is in. Its only hope is that new owners can be persuaded to care for it and celebrate its history.
The Civic Society will certainly encourage a restoration of the brick kiln when we know who owns it next. Mr King and other readers interested in our built environment, historic and new, can join the Civic Society and help us with our work. www.kingslynncivicsociety.co.uk.
Chairman, Lynn Civic Society