A Lincoln development company has been given a £55,000 penalty after ignoring heritage planners and removing historic fabric and fixtures from a listed building without consent.
Newell’s Projects Limited, its director David Newell and Paul Priestley, a site manager employed by the company, had all pleaded guilty to six offences relating to the removal of irreplaceable features at the grade-II listed Castle Moat House.
City of Lincoln Council took action against the three parties after discovering the unapproved alterations to the property, situated on Drury Lane, close to Lincoln Castle, in February 2016.
Castle Moat House was built within the moat of Lincoln Castle in around 1820 as a large family home. Further additions and improvements were made to it during the mid-19th century.
Many of the historic features damaged or destroyed by the developer date from these periods.
The offences included:
- Removing historic lime plaster wall surfaces in 12 rooms
- Removing historic ceilings in seven rooms
- Removal of a section of historic roof purlin and rafters
- Removal of decorative cornices and skirting boards in four and 14 rooms respectively
- Creating two new doorways through internal walls
- Removal of historic timber lintels
At a sentencing hearing at the magistrates’ court on Friday, January 13, District Judge Peter Veits ordered the three parties to pay a total of £55,410:
- Newell’s Projects Limited – £12,000 fine, £12,000 costs and £170 victims’ surcharge
- David Newell – £12,000 fine, £12,000 costs and £170 victims’ surcharge
- Paul Priestley – £3,900 fine, £3,000 costs and £170 victims’ surcharge
Councillor Neil Murray, Portfolio Holder for Planning Policy and Economic Regeneration at the city council, said: “It is an offence to carry out work to a listed building without the necessary consent, and we are pleased the level of these fines recognise the seriousness of these offences.
“Causing harm to the character of a building of special architectural or historic interest is not acceptable and, while we don’t take the decision to prosecute lightly, we will always take action against breaches of the heritage protection legislation where this is in the public interest.
“In this case, officers met the owner on site and provided advice on the consents required, but work needing listed building consent was still undertaken.”
In mitigation, the defendants claimed that it was their intention to refurbish the house for use as a family home.
Sentencing the three parties, District Judge Peter Veits said: “This case involves the purchase of a property on Drury Lane somewhere in the heart of the old, historic part of the city.
“The law is understandably strict with listed buildings – if they are lost, they are lost forever. Lincoln is a city built on its heritage.
“Those who choose to take on buildings such as this recognise what they are taking on. They are taking on part of history, they are taking on an undertaking to maintain history, to maintain those buildings to their proper state, no matter the costs and time involved. There can be no shortcuts in that.”