Enforcement against works to Capability Brown estate upheld

Unauthorised works to listed buildings at a stately home and park in Norfolk were refused consent and enforcement proceedings upheld on the grounds of less than substantial harm to the significance of the assets themselves without any public benefits and harm to the appearance and character of the surrounding conservation area.

The group of buildings comprised a grade I listed hall and grade II and II* coach house, bath house and clock tower. Works to the buildings had been approved by the local authority but had not been carried out in accordance with the detailed plans and included the removal of a clock from a clock tower, removal of a cupola from the coach house and replacement of sash windows with side-hung casements from the bath house. The inspector agreed with the council in all but one respect that the works required to remedy the contraventions were the minimum necessary. The exception related to the council’s requirement to repair a beam that the clock had to be fixed to. They had referred to R v Elmbridge BC ex parte Active Office Ltd, 1997 where a listed building has been subject to both unlawful alterations and to general decay and argued the enforcement notice could seek both the rectification of the alterations and any necessary related general repairs. However, the inspector opined that it had not been shown by the council that, in Elmbridge, the requirements of the listed building enforcement notice went any further than addressing the unauthorised works to the listed building. In this case, the replacement of the beam was necessary before the mechanism could be re- installed. Nevertheless, the inspector held its inclusion as a requirement of the notice was excessive and he varied the notice to remove it. 

An award of costs against the council was refused, the inspector finding the council had not acted unreasonably in taking many years to take enforcement action at the site, especially given the nature of the works to listed buildings with a complex planning history.

Inspector: Keri Williams; Written representations

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