Secretary of State's Decision

ANNEX B. SUMMARY OF REPRESENTATIONS AND SECRETARY OF STATE’S FINDINGS

Representation Jones / Descorps

Page(s)of Annex_A

Secretary of State Comment

Some or all of works unnecessary for the preservation of the building

1, 112, 113

See paras 30, 46 & 63 of decision letter
Evidence confirms that part of building was at risk of collapse by. 22 May 1996. Secretary of State is satisfied that work to prevent the collapse and preserve the building was necessary

Works should be minimum necessary to make building wind and weather tight should not involve owner in great expense
 

As at 28 May 1996 mill already wind and weatherproof and safe from structural collapse, windows boarded up to prevent vandalism, Babergh District Council’s works were both unnecessary and excessive

18, 19, 22, 34, 54f, 91,
92, 112,
113, 166,
167, 168,
234, 235,
236,
240

See paras 46, 63 & 71 of decision letter
Evidence confirms that part of building was at risk of collapse by 22 May 1996. Secretary of State is satisfied that work to prevent the collapse and preserve the building was necessary
 

Secretary of State also accepts explanation of Council that they took into account both long and short term costs of different repair options. Is satisfied that the works the Council carried out did not involve unnecessary costs

Works were not urgent because already carried out under s78 notice

18, 34, 55, 56. 91, 105,
106, 113,
167, 168,
235, 236.
274

See paras 28 & 29 of decision letter
s78 of The Building Act provides for work to be carried out to prevent an imminent health and safety hazard, not to ensure the preservation of the building
 

The Secretary of State accepts that the works carried out under s78 were to make the building safe so that the s54 works to preserve the building could be carried out

Works affording temporary support or shelter continued for an unreasonable length of time

1

See para 71 of decision letter

Scaffolding already in place by 12June (date of notice) and so couldn’t comply with s54 notice

56, 104,279

June s54 notice is to tell owner continue supporting the Mill with scaffolding — there was no requirement in the Notice for Mr Jones to take action. Mr Jones is charged for hire of scaffolding from 19 June 1997 onwards only

Method of underpinning unsuitable for the mill — caused more damage

23, 24, 34, 91, 104,
105, 112,
141, 274,
275, 487

See paras 65-69 of decision letter
The choice of method of underpinning used by the Council is not relevant to the Secretary of State’s determination in this case

Scaffolding (for june 1997 s54 Notice) — was only required because of Council’s negligent piling works

91,104,105, 112,238, 279

See paras 65-69 of decision letter No evidence to prove this allegation

The amount specified in the noticeis unreasonable

1

See paras 46-50 & 72&73 of decision letter.

No evidence provided to refute contractor’s costs. With no evidence to substantiate this objection the Secretary of State does not find this objection justified

The recovery of that amount would cause hardship

1

See paras 5 1-55 & 74 of decision letter

No evidence provided of Mrs Descorps’ or Mr Jones’s financial circumstances. With nothing to substantiate this objection the Secretary of State does not find this representation justified

That notice under s54(5) did not describe the work carried out and the attached schedule was misleading and inaccurate. Other notices were also defective

1, 12, 13, 22, 23, 54e, 54g, 93,104, 105. 108, 124, 236, 237, 282, 283, 551

See paras 13-17 of decision letter

There was an inaccuracy in the s54 notice dated 22 May 1996.

However in all the circumstances the inaccuracy did not prejudice the owner. There is no prescribed form for s54 and s55 notices

No objective evidence of recent deterioriation - no “factual evidence” of Brian Morton’s observations (no monitoring devices etc)

88, 89, 91,93, 94, 98,101, 102,103, 104,105, 114,160, 161,163, 175,218, 283,284, 410

See paras 26-30 of decision letter.

 There is compelling evidence of the mill’s condition from three people including two experts (a structural engineer and a corporate surveyor) as well as photographic and video evidence

The works carried out were of such poor quality and supervision that they have changed the character of a grade 2 listed building.

1, 2, 34, 50 and 51, 54f, 54h, 541, 106, 111,113, 119, 120, 129,169

Irrelevant

This is not a matter the Secretary of State can consider as part of her determination

 

None of the substandard workmanship which we have highlighted (Letter 9/12/96 & 5/3/98) has been put right or altered

2, 23, 54e

Irrelevant

This is not a matter the Secretary of State can consider as part of her determination

Babergh District Council has not supplied drawings or other documents for work carried out

4, 9,2 1, 24, 41, 110, 122

Irrelevant

This is not a matter the Secretary of State can consider as part of her determination

Babergh District Council failed to obtain listed building consent for the works to the mill

13, 14, 20, 22, 34, 35, 38, 54e, 54f,

Irrelevant

Whether the works were carried out with or without listed building consent is irrelevant to the matters which the Secretary of State has to determine.

However, for the avoidance of doubt, the Secretary of State is of the view that listed building consent is legally required for any works that change the character of a building. It is a matter for the local planning authority, advised if necessary by English Heritage or other experts, to determine whether works to a listed building will change its character.

However,the Secretary of State also notes that if unauthorized works are carried out it is a defence to the offence of carrying out such works that they were urgently needed in the interests of health and safety or for the preservation of the building

Poor quality of Babergh District Council’s work would not have got listed building consent - makes it impossible for owners to carry out restoration the owners wanted to carry out and will double costs Delay in granting planning permission and listed building consent also caused financial losses e.g. loss of rental income

15, 54i, 54j 54k, 104, 277, 278

Irrelevant

This is not a matter the Secretary of State can consider as part of her determination

Items changed at the mill:

Roof tiles replaced with unsympathetic tiles, broken tiles used, cement between tiles, damp proof course used as roof felt,   no oak spreader plates put under major beams as original Diameter of piles not as specified,  none original Compaction piling around a listed building with a ¾ ton hammer,  steel reinforcement in piles not as , specified (no guarantees available)  All windows and blind windows on, north elevation raise the levels ofall windows by 12” so they are not level with any of the windows or the east elevation gable, as was original

All windows around the mill are 4’ by 4’ consent to change the top windows only to 3’ by 4’ north elevation, east gable end not as original (window and blind window)

NE corner only change the character of the vertical mortar size from 1/8 - 1/4 to 5/8 - 1 1/2 all over this corner of the mill only in the brickwork

Enlarge the mortar joint only over ground floor arch to 3 times its original size

Make all the brickwork at the NE corner very heavy in mortar not as original

Change the position of all the windows on the NE corner in relation to the floor have the floor cutting across the new opening window

Stainless steel strengthening every four courses of red brickwork not as original

Use cement and washing up liquid in the mortar mix to lay original bricks not original lime and putty should be used

Put cut brick in the arches not as original

Fix black plastic downpipes from guttering not original

Use internal whitewashed red brick on the external face brickwork

Remove all wood cladding to the second floor and not refix Remove all original windows except 1 no which is 1b no. Board up all window and scatter broken windows and parts of window all round the building

Leave building rubbish all over the site and not clear up

Work not supervised by Brian Morton

54g, 109,110, 126, 132,133,134,135,137,138, 139,141, 142,143,144,175, 176, 179, 180, 181, 231, 278, 282, 511, 522, 547, 548

Irrelevant

This is not a matter the Secretary of State can consider as part of her determination

No brickwork expert appointed by Secretary of State

74

Quality of workmanship is not relevant to the Secretary of State’s determination in this case

Corruption on the part of Babergh District Council and its officers hidden agenda, delaying tactics etc (bias of local experts)

32, 36, 37, 40, 41, 54(c), 54(d), 54i, 54j ,61, 63, 65, (72),
75, 76, 87, 89, 91, 94,
95, 96, 97, 98, 105, 111, 112, 114, 116, 159, 161, 168, 183 268, 269 273, 278, 526

The Secretary of State has seen no evidence to support these allegations. In any event it is not the Secretary of State’sfunction to investigate such allegations

Planning Officer not on site visit at end of April 1996 as stated by Conservation Officer

94, 95, 99, 100, 103

Irrelevant

See para 22c of decision letter. Planning Officer’s statement does not say or even imply this.

Pre-planned Agenda Council  already decided to serve s54 notice before their structural engineer surveyed the Mill

 

 

97, 98, 99, 100, 101,102, 144, 159, 161, 209, 209(a), 210, 212, 239, 408

Irrelevant

But for the avoidance of doubt the Secretary of State confirms that she sees nothing improper in the Council’s actions. The Council had concerns about Sproughton Mill and considered that urgent works might be necessary. They employed aconsultant structural engineer to give expert advice as to whether their concerns were correct and to advise them what action might be necessary. There is nothing sinister about these actions

The local conservation officer has no building qualifications

40, 41, 90,
91, 100,130,
522

Irrelevant
 

The Secretary of State accepts the Council’s evidence that it employed appropriately qualified consultants to give expert advice

No professional architect employed by Babergh District Council for the works

41, 110

Irrelevant
 

The Secretary of State accepts Babergh District Council’s evidence that it employed appropriately qualified consultants to give expert advice

Babergh District Council has not followed its own legal technical guidelines with regard to work at mill

153

Irrelevant
 
This is not a matter the Secretary of State can consider as part of her determination

No warning by Babergh District Council before the owners bought the mill that legal action might be taken in less than 2 months no action taken against previous owner

54b, 269,
271, 282,
342

Irrelevant
(and relates to first s54 notice dated 13 November 1995) This is not a matter the Secretary of State can consider as part of her determination

Not warned before purchase that mill was on Babergh District Council’s Building’s at Risk register - not on Babergh District Council’s official certificate of search, full information about the mill not provided (e.g English Heritage letters/report)

54b, 94, 95, 158, 189, 239, 267, 272

Irrelevant

Took too long for Babergh District Council to grant planning permission and listed building consent unreasonable demands made before planning permission and listed building consent granted

54c, 54d,
54i, 54j,
273, 275,
276, 277,
443, 455,
479

Irrelevant
 

No opportunity to carry out s78 works themselves

54d, 273,
274

Irrelevant
 

Not within scope of Secretary of State’s powers to examine the s78 notice and procedures

Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990

Sections 54 & 55

Sproughton Mill, Sproughton, Ipswich, Suffolk IP4 8AA

1. I am directed to write about the exercise of the Secretary of State's power under section 55(4) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ("the Act"). Urgent works were executed to Sproughton Mill ("the Mill") and a claim for the monies spent made against Mrs. Descorps by Babergh District Council ("the Council"). Mr. Jones mad representations as to why the monies claimed should not be paid and these have been considered by the Secretary of State. This letter gives the Secretary of State's decision as to the extent to which she thinks those representations are justified. (N.B. all page references are to pages in the bundle of documents marked Annex A. These documents will be sent under separate cover.)

Chronology/Background

2. Sproughton Mill was listed as a grade 2 listed building in January 1988 and was placed on the Suffolk Historic Buildings at Risk register in 1992. It was purchased by Josephine Descorps in August 1995. On 13 Nov 1995 a s54 notice (pp 868-870) was served specifying certain works that the Council considered to be urgently necessary for the preservation of the Mill On 20 May 1996 that notice was withdrawn by letter (p785) and on 21 May 1996 a notice under s78 of the Building Act 1984 was served by the Council (pp871 - 872 Annex A). In addition, on 22 May 1996 a Notice under s54 was served specifying works that were urgently required for the preservation of the Mill (pp 873 - 874). In essence the works involved taking down the brickwork in one corner of the building, from the roof to the ground, putting a new piled foundation under that corner and rebuilding the wall These works were started by the Council on or about 30 May 1996 and completed on or about 20 September 1996.

3. Around the end of November 1996 further movement was reported at the Mill On 12 June 1997 the Council served a further notice under s54 (3) stating that works to afford temporary support to the Mill were urgently required. The effect of this Notice was that the scaffolding which had been placed around the building on the completion of the earlier works was to be left in situ indefinitely. On 24 August 1999 the Council served notice under s55 That it required payment of the expenses in connection with the s54 notice served on 22 May 1996. On 25 August 1999 the Council served a second notice under s55 stating that it required payment of the expenses in connection with the s54 notice served on 12 June 1997.

4. On 18 September 1999 Mr. Jones made representations to the Secretary of State that the sums claimed in both notices should not be paid.

Preliminary Points

5. A number of issues have been raised in the representations made in this case which are not relevant to the Secretary of State's decision. The Secretary of State's powers extend only to determining whether representations made on the following matters are justified:

    1. Whether some or all of the work was necessary for the preservation of the building

    2. Whether works for affording temporary support were reasonable or whether they were continued for an unreasonable length of time

    3. Whether the amount claimed in the notice was reasonable

    4. Whether payment of the sum will cause hardship

6. Where representations have been made on other matters, this letter briefly explains that they cannot be taken into account. A full summary of all the representations (both relevant and irrelevant) is set out in the attached "Summary of Representations and Comments" at Annex B.

7. Mr. Jones has made a number of representations about the standard of works carried out by the Council, however the Secretary of State does not consider that Mr. Jones's allegations about the quality of the workmanship are relevant to her decision in this case and these representations have not been taken into account. In any event, the Secretary of State instructed her own surveyor who concluded that the standard of workmanship was reasonable (see also paragraphs 43 and 66).

8. The Council has raised the question of the ownership of the Mill Mr. Jones has stated that he has a proprietorial interest in the Mill but the extent of this ownership has never been fully explained. There is no question that Josephine Descorps is the legal owner of the Mill The Secretary of State has found that it is not necessary for her to form a view on the exact nature of Mr. Jones's ownership of the Mill for the reasons set out in paragraph 9 below.

9. In a previous decision, see letter dated 31 July 2002 (pp 634 - 636 Annex A) the Secretary of State found that it was proper for her to consider representations made by Mr. Jones. This is because although the nature and extent of his own interest in the Mill is unclear, he is obviously the person with control of the Mill and he has always been the only person making representations to the Council about the Mill either on his behalf or on behalf of Mrs. Descorps (the legal owner). The Secretary of State considers that it would be unfair to refuse to hear his representations, either as owner or as the owner's representative, when as a matter of fact, there is no one else who can make representations about the works done to the Mill and the Council have consistently dealt with Mr. Jones as the owner's representative.

10. A number of representations have been made by both parties about the veracity of the evidence put forward by the other party. In particular, Mr. Jones has made allegations of wrongdoing against a number of individuals working on behalf of the Council in this case. However, all the actions taken by council officers and their consultants at the Mill were carried out in pursuance of the Council's statutory duties in relation to the preservation of unoccupied listed buildings. The Secretary of State has seen no evidence to support the allegations made by Mr. Jones and has taken no account of them in her determination.

11. Beyond this, the Secretary of State considers that she is able to make her determination without needing to make any finding about the veracity of any individual's evidence. No further reference is made to these matters in this letter except where they have been mentioned by the parties because there is a conflict over evidence on issues, which are relevant to the determination. In these cases the Secretary of State will set out the evidence which she has considered and, where appropriate, explain which evidence she has relied on and why.

12. There are a number of different notices referred to in this decision letter. The Secretary of State will refer to each of them as follows:

     The section 54 urgent works notice served on 13 October 1995 "The October 1995s54 Notice"

     The section 78 Building Act 1984 notice served on 21 May 1996 "The 78 Notice"

    The section 54 urgent works notice served on 22 May 1996 "The May 1996 s54 Notice"

    The section 54 urgent works notice served on 12 June 1997 "The June 1996 s54 Notice"

     The section 55 notice served on 24 August 1999 relating to the works carried out under the May 1996 s54 Notice "The First s55 Notice"

     The section 55 notice served on 22 August 1999 relating to the June 1997 s54 Notice "The Second s55 Notice"

Validity and Service of the Notices

Representation: That the s54 and s55 notices are defective in form and therefore invalid:

13. There is no prescribed form for s54 or s55 notices and the Secretary of State is satisfied that they included sufficient information to explain to the recipient what work was required to be carried out under the s54 notices, and how much was being claimed and what the amounts were for in the s55 notices.

14. Mr. Jones also states that the fact that the May 1996 s54 Notice specified that work should be carried out to the north west gable, when there is no such gable, caused him considerable confusion and should invalidate the Notice and the claim made under the First s55 Notice.

15. The Council accept that a mistake was made but argue that Mr. Jones knew which corner was referred to and was not prejudiced by the mistake.