A man who caused irreversible damage to a historic farmhouse has been fined and may have to rebuild the property.
Unlawful work to the Grade II listed building in Nash has cost the owner, Simon Lascelles, more than £30,000 in court fines and costs.
Lascelles of St Albans, dismantled walls and removed timbers from the original 17th century farmhouse at Church Farm, Stratford Road, without permission from Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC).
As a result of the works, the only elements of the original listed building which remain intact are two partly rebuilt chimney stacks.
Lascelles pleaded guilty at Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court to breaching listed building consent laws and was ordered to pay a fine of £6,000 and costs of £24,401.
The court found there was significant culpability on the part of Lascelles, as he was well aware that English Heritage considered Church Farm to be significant in architectural and historical terms. The court’s conclusion was that Lascelles knew when the works were executed that they were not permitted and there was some attempt at financial gain.
AVDC cabinet member for planned sevelopment, design and conservation, Sue Polhill, said: “The laws regarding listed building consent are there for a reason, to protect the historical significance of relevant properties. The council has a duty to ensure the law is complied with, which the court specifically referred to when justifying the costs awarded.
“It is important that buildings like this are protected for future generations.
“I hope this case will act as a warning that any unauthorised changes to listed buildings are not tolerated and can be costly.”
AVDC brought the prosecution against Lascelles after enforcement officers were made aware of the work and determined he was in breach of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
In 2010, AVDC applied to the High Court for an injunction to prevent further breaches of planning control. This resulted in Lascelles providing a written undertaking to cease unauthorised works until outstanding applications for permission were determined.
A temporary stop notice was issued to Lascelles in 2011 requiring the unauthorised works to stop. An enforcement notice was also issued requiring certain remedial steps to be undertaken.
Later on that year, an appeal against the council’s refusal to grant planning permission and listed building consent was dismissed by a planning inspector, as was an appeal against the enforcement notice.
AVDC is likely to issue a listed building enforcement notice requiring Lascelles and his wife to rebuild the property.