News release from 14/08/2018

Couple fined after listed building falls into disrepair

A couple must pay more than £1,100 in fines and costs for not carrying out essential repairs to stop a Grade Two listed building in Cottenham falling into disrepair.

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.

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

Listed buildings are considered nationally important for their special architectural or historic interest, and so have extra protection within the planning system.

The prosecution was brought by the Council after the owners were served with a legal notice in February, which gave them two months to fix the issues. This deadline was extended by an additional month, but no remedial works were carried out. The Council’s planning enforcement team had already been working with the owners before this legal notice was issued to try and get them to carry out the basic but essential maintenance work.

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 that buildings or land are having a harmful effect on an area.

The case was heard at Cambridge Magistrates Court last week (on Thursday 9 August) 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.

Franco Basso was fined £440, must pay £75 costs and a £44 surcharge. Katherine Fleming must pay a £467 fine, £75 costs and a £46 surcharge.

Following the court case, the owners have since confirmed to Council officers that they are making arrangements for the work to be carried out.

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Cabinet Member for Environmental Health and Licensing, and member for Cottenham, Cllr Neil Gough, 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.”

Fellow South Cambridgeshire District Council Member for Cottenham, Cllr 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. They will be pleased that positive action has been taken to require the owners to put this right. Along with Cllr Gough, I will be keeping an eye on progress to restore this house.”