SPECIAL status for the Dorman Long tower has been removed – paving the way for its demolition.

Campaigners celebrated last week after Teessider Nick Taylor lodged a successful bid to list the former South Bank coal tower – with the hope it could become a hub to showcase the area’s cultural and industrial heritage. 

Read more: Iconic Dorman Long Tower in Teesside WILL be demolished

The Grade II listing also put the brakes on the imminent demolition of the 1950s tower. 

But it has now been stripped of Historic England status after an appeal from the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen – and the intervention of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). 

It’s understood Teesworks leaders had hoped to bring the 180ft tower down in the early hours of Sunday morning as General Electric wind turbine plans on the wider site take shape.

However, this has now been pushed back – with combined authority chiefs saying it is due to be razed in the coming weeks. 

The Northern Echo:

The tower pictured in the last fortnight Picture: Nick Taylor

TVCA officials say crunch talks were held over the weekend between Mr Houchen, Historic England, and Teesworks bosses to challenge the Historic England listing.  They claimed the listing had cost an extra £40,000 to £50,000 to the taxpayer and risked projects earmarked for the wider site. 

An appeal was lodged on Sunday night alongside a request to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. 

Mr Houchen said this had been successful – adding that it showed how important the redevelopment of the former Redcar steelworks was to the government. 

He also claimed the listing would have cost jobs and investment at the site if the status remained.

Mr Houchen added: “I would like to send a message to those that think trying to stop these developments is the right thing to do – our heritage does not lie in a rotting coal bunker, our heritage lies in the people that built this great region.

“It lies in the structures that stand tall across the world, from The Shard, Sydney Harbour Bridge and One World Trade Centre.

Two petitions to save the tower were set up in the wake of demolition plans emerging.

Charities and campaigners have argued it is a monument to Teesside’s industrial past – with concerns about the level of consultation with the public ahead of the move.

Last week, Mr Taylor said: “Teesworks seems hell bent on demolishing this iconic structure. 

“This building was built in the 1950s by Dorman Long and that name resonates throughout Teesside, the North-East, the UK, and the rest of the world.

“It is simply industrial heritage vandalism.”

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Teesworks bosses pointed to an independent report by engineers Atkins which showed “ongoing and irreversible” damage to the structure meant it could cost between £7m and £9m to secure and maintain.

Concrete cracking and weakening as well as “general age-related wear and tear” were also cited – with concerns about demolition costs rising further in future years.

The Conservative mayor claimed Historic England officials had agreed to the listing without seeing the structure itself. 

Historic England said its officers had visited the site and agreed it merited Grade II status after the review was launched. 

Correspondence seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service shows the new Secretary of State, Nadine Dorries, ruled the building was “not of sufficient architectural or historic interest to merit listing”. 

The Northern Echo:

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen

Her letter judged that the loss of fabric from the building reduced its architectural interest – and the building was “essentially a functional structure”. 

The tower sits near the South Bank coke oven battery on the former Redcar steelworks site.

The coke ovens will make way for a new wind turbine manufacturing facility being built by LM Wind, a subsidiary of GE renewable energy.

Redcar and Cleveland Council said it couldn’t take heritage considerations into account when ruling on an application for the tower’s demolition last week. 

However, the authority said the subsequent listing overrode its decision.

At the time, Historic England said it had advised Grade II status after careful consideration.

A statement from the body added: “Built by Dorman Long, the brutalist tower stands as a confident advert to this internationally renowned company that dominated Teesside’s steel and heavy engineering industry in the 20th century and built structures across the world, including Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

“The tower is also a rare surviving remnant of the coal, iron and steel industries, standing as a monument to Teesside’s, and England’s, 20th century industrial heritage.”

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Historic England confirmed the site’s owners had requested an urgent review of the Grade II listing – and its status had been removed by the DCMS. 

A spokesperson added: “We were able to visit the site and after further assessment we confirmed our advice that the tower merits consideration for listing at Grade II.

 “However, the DCMS, which takes the decision on all listing cases, has decided to remove its listed status based on the updated information on the survival of fabric and on architectural significance within the review.

“Our site visit highlighted the prior loss of much of the historic coking plant, as well as the likely costs and ongoing safety risks of keeping the surviving tower. 

“We recognise the importance of the public benefits that will come from the remediation and planned regeneration of the whole Teesworks site. 

“We also accept, with regret, that demolition of the tower is now likely to proceed but we are keen to continue supporting local partners as works progress.”

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