Saturday, 18 February 2012
Re Listed Buildings
Should a listed building story pop up, the planners will trot out the line that they are one of only two Welsh Authorities who have been granted delegated power from CADW to approve/refuse listed building consents. Having had such a responsibility since 2001 you would think they would be aware that this power expressly forbids them the right to approve demolition, apparently not.
Numerous earlier posts on this blog followed the saga of Felin Wen Mill in Llandybie where the owner was prosecuted for removing machinery, although the building itself remained intact. Halfway through this protracted process, another listed mill, a couple of miles away was flattened by another mill owner.
The Western Mail has the story;
Planning bosses have come under fire for allowing the demolition of an iconic Amman Valley listed building.
The Old Mill in Pontaman was believed to be more than 200 years old when it was demolished in May 2010.
And campaigner Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM claims Carmarthenshire Council may have breached its own planning restrictions in allowing the demolition of the building – despite not having the authority to do so.
The council is one of only two Welsh local authorities with delegated listed building powers from CADW.
But that authority does not include demolition.
Mr Thomas believes that by granting demolition consent, the authority may have breached planning laws.
Mr Thomas said his concern was not related to the actions of the mill owner, but to the failings of the authority itself.
“It is important that the correct definition of demolition, as noted in regulation, is applied in the local authority’s work when granting a listed building work of this nature,” he said.
“I am minded to believe that the council may have, by granting the consent for the demolition of a listed building, breached the delegated authority granted to it.
“I received information, last April, from the former Minister for Heritage stating that our local council does not have permission to grant consent for demolition.
“Furthermore, minutes of the council’s executive board meeting in 2001 when the authority agreed to seek that delegated authority, categorically states the powers do not include demolition permission.
“I am concerned that the local authority should have been aware of its limitations since day one, but has still chosen to award listed building consent when it does not have the power to do so.
“I have written to the Welsh Government and have raised these concerns with the Minister for Heritage.
“The taxpayers of the county need reassurance that their local planning authority has not acted beyond its limitations.”....
The row follows a lengthy and costly legal battle with another mill owner in the county who was prosecuted by Carmarthenshire Council for carrying out “more than the minimum required” to save his dilapidated mill.
Nigel Humphreys, of Llandybie, was initially cleared of illegally destroying the internal workings of the 19th century Grade II-listed Felin Wen mill during Christmas 2007.
When magistrates found in Mr Humphreys’ favour, the council took their case to the Appeal Court, who support findings but asked magistrates to reconsider certain elements of their decision.
The case was reheard, and Mr Humphreys was fined for “works involving the destruction of the water mill’s historic machinery were not limited to the minimum measures.”
He was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £2,500 prosecution costs.
Mr Humphreys has always maintained he carried out only emergency work to save the mill from imminent collapse.
The case is believed to have cost the council in excess of £100,000.
Mr Humphreys last night said the decision making with the planning department at Carmarthenshire Council needed to be reviewed by an independent body.
“The decisions that have been taken clearly do not show any parity and I feel that the best interests of the listed buildings themselves are not being taken into consideration,” he said.
“By no means would I wish to see the owner of Pontaman Mill prosecuted as I was, but there clearly doesn’t seem to be a consistency.
“I think serious questions need to be asked as to why the planning authority saw fit to run up massive costs at risk to the taxpayer over one mill and allow another to be completely demolished.”
A Carmarthenshire Council spokesperson last night said: “The council is looking into the matter.
Full article here; http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2012/02/17/planning-bosses-under-fire-over-amman-valley-listed-building-demolition-decision-91466-30346539/
On a completely different note I must comment on a new piece of jargon I stumbled upon today, this time from the next Regen and Leisure Scrutiny Committee. It happens to relate to expenditure in Ammanford town centre, which has obviously 'slipped' forward into the next financial year but - 'front loading'....??
Slippage due to front loading of external funds
Posted by caebrwyn at 12:22