WISBECH: Company fined £10,000 for demolishing eyesore in conservation area without consent
A WISBECH-based company was yesterday fined £10,000 for demolishing an eyesore in a costal resort s conservation area without consent from a council. Butler and Le Gallez acquired a former garage site in Hunstanton eight years ago, intending to redevelop
A WISBECH-based company was yesterday fined £10,000 for demolishing an eyesore in a costal resort's conservation area without consent from a council.
Butler and Le Gallez acquired a former garage site in Hunstanton eight years ago, intending to redevelop it as housing.
King's Lynn magistrates heard the company had discussed plans - including some which included a bus station next door owned by West Norfolk Council - with planning officers.
But talks were delayed while a longer-term "masterplan" for the regeneration of the resort was completed.
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The company eventually applied to demolish the buildings in St Edmund's Terrace to make way for any future development, but admitted the work was carried out before permission was granted.
Teresa Campion, prosecuting for West Norfolk Council, said: "The borough council received a complaint in April which suggested the property in Hunstanton's conservation area had been demolished without consent from the planning authority."
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Magistrates said the company must have known consent was necessary because they had applied for it, and imposed a £10,000 fine plus costs and surcharges totalling £197.
Andrew Gore, defending, said: "Clearly there are some buildings in a conservation area with some inherent value which may add to the street scene, but this site was a redundant 1960s garage with no intrinsic quality.
"The company applied to demolish the site so that when the regeneration partnership came up with a masterplan the company would be ready to go.
"They assumed this would be a formality. They couldn't see any reason why consent should be refused.
"This is not a technical breach - the company knew the consent was required, but they accept they jumped the gun."
Mr Gore said the company, which had a turnover of £400,000 last year, discussed a second development involving the bus station in June 2007 after talks broke down about their original plans.
"It seems unfortunate that there have been so many changes of heart - none of which were on the part of the company, who always wanted to redevelop this site sympathetically for the benefit if the whole town," he said.
After the hearing Jason Law, the council's portfolio holder for regeneration, said: "In recent years we have heard about fantastic plans and consultations, but they have not come to the borough. We have heard lots of talk but little else.
"We have always wanted to work with Mr Butler on that site so it is unfortunate he has had to be prosecuted, but he has broken the law.
"We do not want this site to be developed without regard to the whole town because it is central to Hunstanton - we would much rather get these negotiations going again.