Early in 2012 the Council refused permission for Spenhill’s (Tesco own property arm) initial plans for the site. These included a large supermarket. Subsequently, the Society has started a dialogue with the company and it is hoped these discussions will continue. The Society is anxious to assist Tesco with its plans so that the outcome is on the best interests of both the Company and the residents.
In the meantime, the Society has conducted a poll of its membership to see what it thought about the future of the silos which are listed buildings. With just under 50% of the total membership responding, the results of the survey were as follows:
11% wanted to see the silos demolished
27% wanted to see the silos retained for posterity
57% would accept the demolition of the silos provided they are replaced by a well-designed development that fits with the ethos of the town
5% could not agree on an opinion
The committee has concluded that based on this survey, the majority would be happy to see the silos replaced by something that fits in with the town. On balance, therefore, the mood is against leaving the silos as they stand. Whilst this survey cannot be taken as a plebiscite by the town, the Society believes that it is indicative of the overall view of residents.
A number of other points arose from the survey which are answered below.
The idea of a restaurant on top of the silos has been put forward many times but this is completely uneconomic as all services such as power, water and waste would have to be brought to the top and a wholly new means of accessing the top floor would be required. This makes a restaurant unviable however wonderful the view might have been from the top.
Again, the suggestion that the silos could be turned into wizard apartments has been made before, but members should know that their construction makes this impossible. We have a technical explanation below for those who would like to better understand but, essentially, you cannot knock holes in the silos in order to place windows as this would damage the overall structure. Inside there are very small octagonal tubes ideal for grain but no good for humans.
For those who like to have sight of a technical explanation. The silos are an early example of slip form concrete. This is where a shuttering frame is used as a continuous mould, sufficient to contain a single pour of concrete mix; this mould is slid vertically as each pour hardens until the required height for the structure is reached. The external, cylindrical shape of the silos conceals a vertical honeycomb core that was used to contain the wheat; this both strengthens the ‘tube’ and allows controlled use of the contents.
The honeycomb is in concrete and it is integral with the outer, cylindrical skin. As the mould is positioned and before the concrete is poured, steel reinforcement bars, which are tied into a cage like form, are inserted into the spaces in the mould, thus the whole unit is an integral structure.
This honeycomb structure prevents the installation of any other internal fixtures such as stairs or lifts for access to the roof level.
The Society has also discovered who originally listed the buildings on Broadwater Road. It appears that this arose soon after the legislation was first enacted. It was then that English Heritage asked all councils what buildings of note they had in their area and what buildings might be considered for ‘listing’. The then council produced a list, sent it off to English Heritage and the next thing they knew, they were ‘listed’. Residents of the day did not appear to have had any say in what should happen as the whole thing was implemented in what one must call a rush, and without any real discussion. So, it seems, the listing was perhaps accidental.