Of course, to some, the Tricorn was an unloved eyesore. Little wonder the developers and the council that was responsible for its degeneration into a pile of mouldering concrete were able to whip up a lynch mob to howl for its public execution. This clearly influenced the minister who said "comments from the public ran at nearly five to one against listing". But since when has the listing of an important building, for which there was informed support, been decided by a straw poll?
The minister was also advised there were "serious questions relating to the performance of this building". Who by? The council that opposed listing? It said the spectacular vehicular ramps giving access to the wholesale market were "awkward for long vehicles", making the wholesale market an "awkward proposition". No so. The ramps were designed to the requirements of the council as freeholder and the market operated successfully.
The decision not to list was based on biased comments and subjective judgments. Most were contentious, some incorrect. None could be challenged before or after the decision had been made, by which time it was too late.
What is sad is that the views of those who had the vision and imagination to see the Tricorn for what it could be were brushed aside without real consideration. The bold but sensitive renovation proposal by Kate McIntosh for the Portsmouth Society, a long-term supporter of the Tricorn, was not considered. A viable scheme that respected the integrity of the original design, and which introduced housing and other uses into the complex while retaining the dramatic spiral access ramps and the most striking feature on the Portsmouth skyline, its sculptural car parking "trays".
What is unbelievable is that we do not know what will replace the Tricorn and when. The developers that wasted years with aborted schemes still have no firm proposals. Nor has the council a masterplan for regenerating the city centre with the Tricorn site as its key element. If development does not start in the current cycle, Portsmouth will have a dismal car park at its heart for many years.
Sadly for its supporters and those involved in its design, the Tricorn is no more. But the issues surrounding its demolition are important as attention turns to the pressure by the Twentieth Century Society and others to list the Gateshead Trinity Centre and the Get Carter car park, the only remaining early 1960s shopping and car parking complex, for which I am responsible.
Gateshead was innovative. A 3D concrete mega structure that used the differing site levels to create two-level shopping with overhead servicing. The Get Carter car park, with its heavily chamfered parking trays, is an unmistakable feature on the Tyneside skyline. Visually Gateshead will lose its front teeth were it to be demolished.
Of course any 40-year-old shopping centre needs updating. But it and the car park can be renovated as part of the regeneration of Gateshead. Already, the council is organising conducted tours of the top floor restaurant and the heavily sculptured staircase from which Michael Caine pushed the villain to his death. A restaurant and nightclub at the top of the car park serviced by glass climber lifts would soon become the talk of the Tyne.
Whether the car park should be listed must be dealt with properly with all issues considered. The lessons from the Tricorn affair must be learned. There must an open debate and the opportunity to challenge incorrect or biased statements. However, all this is unnecessary if Gateshead council has the imagination and vision to see the benefits of a renovating and updating a historic building as part of the regeneration of the town centre – and refuse all proposals that include demolition.
Owen Luder runs the Owen Luder Partnership