It is exceptionally difficult at times to quantify artistic and historic value when it comes to the preservation of English Heritage.

There has to be no accounting for taste, which means that in more cases than you might expect, buildings that are somewhat decisive aesthetically are deemed to have enough artistic value to become a listed building on English Heritage’s list.

Yorkshire has a particularly unique and diverse architectural history, from elegant examples of heritage brickwork to some of the finest examples of somewhat rare architectural styles.

This rich tapestry of construction has led to some listed building choices becoming more contentious than others.

Gulbenkian Centre

The first new building for teaching the performing arts at a British University, the Gulbenkian Centre was designed by Peter Moro, the designer of the Grade I Royal Festival Hall in London and a man who was seen as a specialist in creating theatre spaces.

Like a lot of academic buildings in Yorkshire during an era of Brutalism, it was initially seen as somewhat controversial for its mix of red brick and concrete, but as so many esoteric works from that period have since been evaluated and listed, it has become increasingly beloved.

Park Hill

At one point considered to be the single most hated building in Great Britain, the Sheffield utopian housing estate was considered to be a blemish and tragic symbol of the decline of a city that was the centre of the steel industry.

It would come as something of a shock, therefore, when a building that a lot of people outside of Sheffield believed would be destined for demolition would become a Grade II* listed building in 1998.

This was, ultimately, part of a somewhat ambitious gambit by Sheffield’s City Council to attract investment and creative renovation, and eventually a partnership between English Heritage and Urban Splash did convert the old flats into a more modern set of apartments, businesses and social housing.

Interestingly, after being listed it was also subject to one of the most famous acts of defacement in the history of English heritage, with the “I Love You” bridge becoming a famous cultural artefact of the city thanks to Alex Turner of the band Arctic Monkeys.

The Extension To The Theatre Royal

The Theatre Royal in York is not a divisive structure at all; with its 18th-century roots, beautiful archwork and gothic architectural sensibilities it is no surprise the building is Grade II* listed.

However, what is far more divisive and the subject of considerable debate is the restaurant extension to the Theatre Royal added in 1967 and designed by the late modernist architect Patrick Gwynne.

Whilst many modern extensions, expansions and redevelopments are sympathetic to the original character of the building, the sweeping futuristic steel extension almost deliberately draws attention to itself by being incongruous with the historic structure it is connected to.

However, as with a lot of modernist structures, that initial shock has given way to an appreciation 

of the elegance of the foyer’s new design in its own right, even if people with more traditionalist sensibilities tend to give this praise somewhat begrudgingly.