Row erupts over work on listed building

IAN MacKELLAR DESECRATION of one of Huntingdonshire s oldest buildings? Or a loving restoration of a 16th century family home? That depends whether you ask the owner or his next-door neighbour. At the heart of the row is Melviors Hall, in Earith High Stre

IAN MacKELLAR

DESECRATION of one of Huntingdonshire's oldest buildings? Or a loving restoration of a 16th century family home? That depends whether you ask the owner or his next-door neighbour.

At the heart of the row is Melviors Hall, in Earith High Street, a Grade II* listed building that was bought by Peterborough electrician Justin Carter last month.

His next-door neighbour Samantha Mack, who runs a safety-manufacturing business in the village with her partner Simon Blackmore, and lives with him and her two children at number 89, accuses Mr Cater of desecrating the hall, demolishing a conservatory without consent and building a car park where, until last week, there stood an established orchard.


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"I will do everything in my power to protect this building," she told The Hunts Post. It's so valuable that Grade II* represents only four per cent of all listed buildings. It's also in a conservation area and he is doing all this without permission.

"The garden wall is ready to fall over, and he has dug out part of the pavement. The orchard has been hardcored and now concreted over," Ms Mack said. "I was devastated to see it."

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She claimed the builder had said he could do as he wished.

"I can't understand how anyone can cause these problems without being stopped. This is not parking for one or two vehicles. It's for loads. Apparently, he is putting up garages."

Mr Carter admitted to being unfamiliar with regulations regarding what could and could not be done without planners' agreement in the grounds of a listed building and in a conservation area. "When they pointed it out, I stopped work," he told The Hunts Post. Ms Mack disputed that work had ceased.

"I put in a patio and a shed and have been reinstating the driveway, which didn't need planning consent," he said.

"But I haven't done any work on the house, which I know needs consent. My structural engineer is talking to the council about that."

Mr Carter insisted that the house was unsound and that he was planning to spend more than a year and £200,000 to make it fit for him to live in with his partner and raise a family.

"It needs a huge amount of work to bring it up to a safe standard, never mind a habitable standard. I intend to bring it back to its former glory.

"We have been talking to HDC about what we can and can't do, but the conservation people said they weren't interested in what we did outside. It's not like I'm putting up a block of flats."

A spokesman for HDC said the council was in continuing discussions with Mr Carter about the property.

Planning policy manager Richard Probyn said people who bought listed buildings often did not understand at first that the listing also extended to the whole curtilage of the site, including walls and outhouses. "You can't just knock down a shed, for example, without consent.

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