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Owner Fined for Razing Historic Building

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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A “catastrophic decision” to demolish a 200-year-old historic property in England has resulted in a £20,000 ($24,318 USD) court fine for a U.K. man, according to authorities.

Bradford Crown Court recently fined 55-year-old David Eckersall after he brought about the demolition of the Nutter Cote Farm, a historic building in Thornton-in-Craven, about 35 miles northwest of Leeds, in England, according to the Craven District Council.

Though possible, the judge indicated that a jail sentence was not suitable in the case.

The Couple Next Door

The demolition reportedly took place in late April and early May 2016, while neighbors Joan and Geoff Peel, who lived in the adjoining Nutter Cote Cottage, were away from home.

When the couple, who had lived in the house for 40 years, returned home from their vacation, they found that the neighboring house was destroyed and their own home had lost parts of a wall and roof.

Eckersall’s attorney told the court that his client, who had permission to extend his side of the cottage, made the decision to knock down the listed landmark after it became clear that there were significant structural problems which were making the whole building unsafe, The Telegraph reported.

His attorney also added that the decision left his client with a mortgage payment of £300,000 on a property that is no longer standing.

Impossible to Prove

While it was impossible to prove Eckersall’s claim that severe structural issues lead to the decision, the judge said it was nevertheless “catastrophic.”

“You took the decision off your own bat to take down a Grade II listed building,” said Judge Colin Burn. Grade II is one of three classes of Listed Buildings in the U.K., and comprises more than 90 percent of the more than 375,000 buildings designated as historic in the country. Grade II buildings are considered to be “of special interest,” which Grade II* buildings are “particularly important buildings of more than special interest,” and Grade I buildings are “of exceptional interest.”

Nutter Cote, comprising both homes, is a Grade II Listed Building, designated by the Department of Culture, Media and Sports under the Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas Act. It was first listed in 1988, according to Historic England records.

The judge ruled not to compensate the Peels in the ruling, but noted, “Their building was no longer completely watertight. It caused a massive amount of upset and distress to them as well as a significant amount of physical damage.”

Both the Peels and Eckersall are seeking permission to rebuild, The Telegraph reported.


Tagged categories: Construction; Criminal acts; Demolition; Historic Structures; Laws and litigation; Maintenance + Renovation; Renovation

Comment from Jesse Melton, (1/10/2017, 8:17 AM)

I'm not sure I understand. Who gets the bill for fixing the occupied house?

Comment from Dick Piper, (1/10/2017, 9:51 AM)

It sounds to me that the owners of that house have to repair it themselves. They could certainly sue Eckersall. The fine seams very small to me, giving Eckersall a win.

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