IHBC’s ‘Practice Spotlight’: Crumbling masonry in GII Gothic house cleaned up following S.215 ‘Untidy Sites Notice’ – ‘powers not used enough…’ says the IHBC

websiteA couple must pay more than £1,100 in fines and costs following a S.215 ‘Untidy sites notice’ from South Cambridgeshire, for not carrying out essential repairs to stop a Grade II listed building falling into disrepair, in a strategy that consultant and IHBC adviser Bob Kindred says involves ‘powers not used as often as they might be’.

Bob Kindred, who manages the ‘National Database of Listed Building Prosecutions’ for the IHBC, said: ‘It is encouraging to see a local planning authority making use of the full range of its enforcement powers when dealing with the disrepair of heritage assets.’

‘Untidy sites notices (S.215 of the 1990 Planning Act) have long been held to be applicable to buildings as well as to land, but are powers not used as often as they might be where listed buildings are sliding towards being categorised as ‘at risk’’.

‘Furthermore, recovery of a council’s costs in default is also generally straightforward.’

‘South Cambridgeshire should be commended for their action in this case on a building clearly of special architectural merit.’

The Ely Standard writes:

South Cambridgeshire District Council prosecuted the pair because of the dilapidated condition of the 17th century gothic house on Cottenham High Street.

It was left with patches of crumbling masonry and broken glass which could pose a risk to the public if action wasn’t taken, they said.

Chimney stacks on the property’s roof were left damaged, and vegetation reaching its roof was left uncleared. Building control experts will continue to monitor the state of the building to help protect the public.

Councillor Neil Gough, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for environmental health and licensing, and member for Cottenham, said: ‘The couple prosecuted in this case were given ample opportunity to fix the issues with this property – but chose not to.

They have a duty to maintain this historic building and as one of Cottenham’s local members I will be checking to make sure that they meet these responsibilities.

We only take legal action as a last resort and always try to work with people to avoid this. However, in this case we were left with no choice so make no apology for taking robust action.

Councillor Eileen Wilson said: ‘The gothic house is a prominent feature of Cottenham and dear to the heart of residents. People in Cottenham have been upset that the owners of such a special building have allowed it to fall into such a state of disrepair.’…

The prosecution was brought by the council after the owners were served with a legal notice in February.

This deadline was extended by an additional month, but no remedial works were carried out….

A notice of this type, under Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, can be served by councils when it is felt buildings or land are having a harmful effect on an area.

The case was heard at Cambridge Magistrates Court last week when Franco Basso and Katherine Fleming, from Windsor Road in Cambridge, were told to pay a total of £1,147 in fines and costs. They both pleaded guilty to breaching the Section 215 notice.

The owners have since confirmed they are making arrangements for the work to be carried out.

Read more….

Prosecution cases can always be forwarded by email to either government@ihbc.org.uk or bob.kindred@bobkindred.demon.co.uk, preferably with at least the baseline information as set out in the main online Table.

View the IHBC LB Prosecutions Database

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