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Welcome to week 2 of Progressive Heritage’s Working with Heritage series. The series asks the same 5 questions of different industry experts to reveal a more rounded picture of the wider team typically involved in the re-use of historic buildings.

This week we hear the viewpoint from a Chartered Building Surveyor for historic buildings – Peter Norris BA (Hons), FRICS, FCABE, MIFireE, Managing Director of Oculus Building Consultancy Ltd in Bath.

Peter Norris

Peter Norris

Peter is a Chartered Building Surveyor and Building Engineer with over 40 years in the profession. Peter also lectures on fire safety and the Building Regulations at the University of Bath to undergraduates on the architectural degree course and to postgraduates studying the MSc Course, Conservation of Historic Buildings, MArch and the RIBA Part III course, and is also involved in a research steering group at the University. Peter is a founding member of The Institution of Fire Engineers’ Heritage Special Interest Group which monitors, investigates and develops fire safety research in relation to heritage assets.  

See Peter’s full profile here.

Visit www.oculusconsultancy.co.uk

1       In the context of the re-use of heritage buildings has your work changed since the 2007-08 recession, and if so how?

Clients are more concerned with doing work when there is a down turn in the economic climate

2       What challenges to you commonly find when working on a re-use project?

Clients’ expectations, without a clear understanding of the need to comply with technical legislation.

3       What do you believe are the positives in the re-use of buildings?

  • Greater sustainability without having to start from new.
  • Maintaining heritage assets for future generations – positive conservation
  • Creates challenges for sensitive adaptions whilst maintaining the integrity of the heritage asset
  • Heritage buildings can create a more cohesive environment for some uses – industry within an original intended environment
  • Historic building prestige – business can use the building for positive promotion of the services being provided

4       What would you advise the owner of a heritage building poised for development to consider before starting a project?

  • Make sure there is a financial contingency as it will probably cost more than what has been estimated.
  • Ensure you have the necessary consents.

5       With the benefit of a crystal ball what will be the main impact(s) upon your work on heritage buildings in the next 5-10 years?

Will local authority conservation departments realise they need to assist rather than obstruct to ensure heritage assets are given the investment needed for their conservation? There has to be more of a willingness to work as a team in the best interest of the building.

I was delighted when Peter agreed to partake in the Working the Heritage series. To effectively and imaginatively re-using heritage buildings to suit our current building standards is always a challenge. Peter’s approach to understand and work with the proposed design is invaluable for a successful outcome, as I experienced when working with him on the Gainsborough Hotel in Bath (to see the hotel click here).

‘Follow’ this blog to ensure you don’t miss next week’s interview with the Structural Engineer.

Click here for last week’s interview with the Sole Practitioner Architect.