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ARTS minister Baroness Blackstone has backed the ECHO'Scampaign to save Liverpool's Tobacco Warehouse.

She said that the Department of Culture ``attaches a great deal of importance'' to the protection of such historic buildings.

She agreed any proposal by owner Kitgrove Ltd to demolish the grade II listed building was a matter for the local planning authority.

Kitgrove Ltd is examining three bids from developers keen to secure a future for the building.

But in a letter to Riverside MP Louise Ellman, Baroness Blackstone added: ``I would not expect consent to be given for the total or even substantial demolition of any listed building without clear and convincing evidence that all reasonable efforts have been made to sustain existing uses or find viable new uses.''

City council chief executive David Henshaw gave Mrs Ellman a more guarded reply, but also underlined efforts to keep the dock land building for future generations.

``There is a belief in some quarters that demolition of the warehouse is a prerequisite to successful rehabilitation and re-use of the two other Jessie Hartley warehouses and wider generation of the area,''he said.

``Consultants have informed the council that it would be impossible to find an economic reuse of the Tobacco Warehouse.''

He added: ``However, as a matter of principle the council is very keen to promote the preservation of its prized historical assets.''

The ECHO ``Stop the Rot'' campaign is aiming to preserve buildings at risk,including the Stanley Dock area.

The city council is waiting for the result of a marketing exercise which is ``almost complete.''

Mrs Ellman said: ``I am pleased the minister and council have confirmed that any proposal to demolish the Tobacco Warehouse will not be taken lightly.

``What we now need is for all concerned to make maximum efforts to retain and redevelop this major part of Liverpool's historical heritage.''

A spokesman for Insignia Richard Ellis, the agents handling the sale, said: ``We received a small number of bids - fewer than anticipated.

``The owners are now considering these bids and will reach a decision in the near future.''

One of companies bidding for the warehouse is Liverpool and Manchester-based Urban Splash - the firm who rescued Birmingham's Fort Dunlop.

Director Bill Maynard has hinted he would be seeking a bright future for the building, if successful,but did not wish to discuss his bid in any detail.


SUPPORT: From arts minister Baroness Blackstone; OLD AND NEW: Liverpool's Tobacco Warehouse is pictured with the new Beetham Tower behind.; Picture: COLIN LANE
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 12, 2003
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