Saturday, 17 July 2010

Are works to 47-48 Hawley Square such a success?

47-48 on the left and 49-50 on the right

According to the TDC press release, grade II listed 47-48 Hawley Square, badly damaged in an arson related fire a couple of years ago, is a great success through emergency repair work carried out by TDC's Building Control. I'm unsure how this level of work to a listed building after a fire two years ago can be deemed a success. The release states:

"The Conservation and Building Control teams tried to get the co-operation of the building owner to restore the property, but with no success. During this time, the council has repeatedly secured the site to prevent unauthorised access and have been monitoring the stability of what remains of the structure."

But 47-48 Hawley Square is subject to a series of recent planning applications to errect a full storey rear extension. This has recently been approved (F/TH/10/0194) under delegated powers with the following comments:

"This is a resubmission further to refusal of ref: 09/0625 and ref 09/0664. These applications were refused for the following reasons:-
- That the size, scale and design of the development would detract from the setting of the existing building and prove severely detrimental to the character and appearance of the listed building and conservation area.

The proposed development has been amended and the extension made smaller and the design altered to be sympathetic to the appearance and character of the existing building. Informal discussions were carried out with the conservation officer before submission and this scheme was found to satisfy issues raised in the first submission."
So if building control and conservation had not managed to communicate with the owner, how can recent discussions have taken place to agree modifications for the four storey rear extension to allow create flats?
And what warranted the writing of the press release for these works by TDC? We understand the owner is also the developer of the Reeves Yard site opposite the Tudor House.

And while we're looking at that little section of Hawley Square, let's remind ourselves of the utter state of next door 49-50.

The magnificent ex-Conservative Club building which has stood open to the elements with no roof covering and no repair works since the fire. Recent plans were afoot for a compulsory purchase order to the tune of £10,000 to bring this grade II listed building back under TDC control. We've learned these plans have been curtailed at the 11th hour when papers were about to be served because TDC has too many CPOs on the boil at the moment!

Really? How many and where are these?

But this does not negate the owner's responsibility to maintain a listed building and if they are not doing so that the authorities can and should move to prevent further damage. At the very least, a temporary tin roof and support to the facade. It is only through example that unscruplous property developers will learn to avoid speculating in listed properties in Thanet. Ownership of a listed property comes with responsibility. The state of this fine building standing in a state of ruin from fire from the last two years is a scandal.


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