to win stone from local sources in England
the appropriate stone for conserving historic buildings can be extremely
difficult, but is essential if repairs are to both perform and weather
satisfactorily. Increasingly, new build projects in historic areas
require stone which is compatible with its neighbours and this usually
points to using material from local quarries. Many of these sources
no longer operate and re-opening them is a fraught process. Nonetheless
a number of initiatives are trying to address the problem.
|English Heritage has supported a
number of applicants seeking to re-open former quarries in order to provide
stone for repairing walls or roofs. Where planning permission is
needed there are often strong objections from residents in the area and
others for whom the quarry site now has a new importance. Former
workings make excellent nature reserves and many are now designated as
County Wildlife Sites or SSSIs. When the Planning Committee or Inspector
consider the issues, they find a welter of policies and guidance in support
of nature and landscape conservation but very little in support of the
interests of building conservation. Invariably one question that
is posed and cannot be unequivocally refuted is ‘surely there is a more
appropriate site somewhere else’.
|The then ODPM (now the DCLG) had
been aware of this problem for some time and the replacement Mineral
Planning Guide 1 with Mineral Planning Statement 1 (MPS 1) has tackled
the issue. It includes Annex 4: Natural Building and Roofing Stone
Provision which addresses the need to protect the most important sources
of stone by placing a resposibilty on local authorities to identify existing
and potential quarries and to safeguard those that are of importance for
building conservation. Local authorities also have to include suitable
policies within development plans so that the needs of building conservation
can be considered equally alongside other conservation and environmental
|There is of course one obvious problem.
are the most important stones? Are they stones that were used
to construct and roof iconic buildings of international importance or are
they the basic ingredients used in vernacular structures which create such
rich local distinctiveness? This question and the need to create
a national database of building stones were highlighted in the Symonds
Report  which inspired many of the recommendations in MPS1 Annex
4. The answer no doubt will depend on quantity and quality
and some form of hierarchical criteria may need to be established.
At present our knowledge about which stones were used on buildings and
just how many there are in any given area is extremely thin, so English
Heritage commissioned a pilot study (the Strategic Stone Study Parts 1
and 2) to see how a national database could be devised. The studies
were primarily designed to develop methods of assessing the past use and
future demand for stones.
|In the first part geologists from
the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Building Research Establishment
(BRE) studied quarries and stone buildings in two areas of the west Midlands.
The surveys looked at sample areas in an effort to estimate usage and provide
some indication of the condition of the buildings. In the second
part of the study volunteer members of Shropshire Geolocal Society and
S Shropshire’s conservation officer recorded the use of roofing stones
in a geological complex region.
||Grinshill stone and red Myddle stone
detail. Cambrian slate roof.
Lias limestone at Harbury Church
|One outcome of the study
was a realisation that in many regions a large amount of information on
building stone use has been assembled by individuals and groups but that
it s often unpublished and not easily accesible. To address this
English Heritage is commisioning the Strategic Stone Study Part 3.
|There is clearly
a great deal of enthusiasm amongst geologists to help to identify and promote
England’s unique stone heritage. The English
Stone Forum has been set up to champion the use of authentic stone.
|Individual geological groups are
also very active in promoting the importance of stone. Amongst other
activities they publish county trails and guides which focus on the geology
and quarries and relate these to the grand and vernacular structures in
|Detailed technical information has
also been produced. The IHBC Technical Committee has published a
Mineral Planning Guide  for applicants proposing to open a small quarry.
This was written by members of the Stone Roof Working Group (SRWG), a body
which includes quarry operators, roofing contractors, planners and conservation
officers. English Heritage has published its Technical Advice
Note: Identifying and Sourcing Stone for Historic Building Repair 
This sets out the criteria for selecting replacement stone based upon matching:
petrography, chemistry and appearance. The Note shows how this should
be done and how to find a reasonably close match if original sources are
no longer available. The SRWG are also producing a Best Practice
Guide for Stone Roofing.
|Finally, Streets for All , an
English Heritage guide positively promotes the distinctiveness of our traditional
streetscapes, emphasising just how much this derives from the use of stone.
Much of this material may well have been sourced locally and used for paving,
kerbing, flagging, walling copings etc. Replacements or new material
should be sourced from original quarries particularly if the objective
of sustainability is also to be achieved.
| ODPM,2004 Planning
for the Supply of Natural Building and Roofing Stone in England and Wales,
 Institute of Historic
Building Conservation email email@example.com
price £4.00 including postage.
 English Heritage, Technical
Advice Note: Identifying
and Sourcing Stone for Historic Building Repair:
 English Heritage/Dept
for Transport, Streets for All, London