HERITAGE experts are seeking legal advice in a last-minute bid to stop two historic buildings in Bognor Regis being demolished.
Save Britain’s Heritage is consulting the solicitors to see if it is realistic to serve any injunction to save the structures at 2-4 Waterloo Square.
Thomas Bender, its conservation officer, visited the site on Wednesday afternoon to see the buildings’ condition.
Preliminary work has started to take down the buildings on the eastern side of the square, which is a conservation area.
Mr Bender said: “We are still exploring all the avenues we have got to keep the buildings.
“We are considering an injunction which would stop Arun District Council from doing what they are about to do.
“We would like to send in our structural engineer to re-assess the buildings in terms of their vulnerability. But time is running out.”
any injunction contained the risk of being costly if it failed and Save Britain’s Heritage was told to pay the expenses of the council, he said.
As reported, Arun has served a demolition notice for the buildings. This stated 39 hazards made it unsafe for them to remain standing. They included the balcony in poor disrepair, the likelihood of corroded internal steelwork and structural collapse.
The council owns the site but has said the duty to maintain the buildings rested with the range of owners in recent years.
A council spokesman said: “Arun District Council believes that the order has been served correctly and is currently being actioned by the persons it was served on.”
The threat to the buildings began last July when developer B5 Ltd applied to demolish them. That planning application has yet to be decided by Arun.
Mr Bender said he believed the buildings dated from the late Victorian era.
“They are more beautiful than I thought they would be and they fit beautifully into the surroundings of the pier.
“The pier is a Grade II-listed building and they form part of its setting and they are an important part of the town’s heritage.
“They are the only buildings here that frame the pier. Taking them away will harm it,” he said.
“They form a connection to the rest of the town from the promenade. If you look from the promenade, there are is hardly anything else which is left.
“They also fit in very well with seaside architectural heritage.”
Cllr Francis Oppler (LD, Orchard) said: “I welcome the intervention of Save Britain’s Heritage.
“I have lived in Bognor Regis all my life and have grown up with these buildings.
“It’s heartbreaking to see the condition the buildings have slipped into through complete neglect.
“The current problems have been totally avoidable had Arun and the various owners over the years taken their responsibilities seriously and kept the buildings maintained.”