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Wall; East Street - update

 
 
On 18 Nov 2008 at 12:53pm Merlin Milner wrote:
Feedback from enquiry to LDC planning
"The wall which was demolished and rebuilt is to the rear of the modern flats at 18-22 East Street. It had become unsafe due to tree root damage and LDC's Property Services officers had to take action in the interests of public safety . This wall was not listed, or "curtilage" listed, and no consents were required for the works. To the south of it is an older wall, to the rear of properties in North St /Market Street. The ownership of the wall is not entirely clear, but LDC have taken responsibility for it. It is a curtilage listed structure, which means that it is not protected specifically for its own intrinsic interest, but for its ancillary relationship to the listed buildings fronting onto North Street. The wall has also been affected by tree root damage and is leaning outwards. This was drawn to the Council's attention in early 2007. Some of the top brick courses of the wall had become loose and unstable. In the interests of public safety ( both for nearby residents and for users of the car park ), scaffolding was erected to stabilise the wall, the loose bricks were removed and safely stored, and safety fencing put up in the car park. This was done by LDC Property Services officers, and agreed with LDC's Conservation Officer, as a practical response to the situation and in anticipation of an appropriate scheme to secure the long term stabilisation and restoration of the wall. Protracted legal enquiries, related to the tree, delayed matters . However, in March 2008, an officer of LDC Property Services wrote to, and met personally with adjacent residents to discuss the situation . It was not possible to reach agreement with all parties on a way forward. Eventually, LDC Property Services submitted a listed building consent application in June 2008 for part demolition and reconstruction of the wall, to a reduced height, using bricks salvaged from the site. A number of restoration options were considered before this approach was chosen. The reduction in the height of the wall is a maximum of four brick courses, to bring it down to the maximum height for a free-standing, un-buttressed, single brick skin wall, as recommended by the Building Research Establishment This application was reported to the Council's Planning Applications Committee on 12 November 2008, where councillors agreed to grant consent, subject to referral to the Secretary of State.A copy of the full report to the committee can be seen on the council's web site at www.lewes.gov.uk/planning. The application was the subject of the usual public consultations. All along, the Council's aims have been to safeguard the public, to restore the listed wall using the original materials, and to bring the car park back into full use."
 
 
On 18 Nov 2008 at 1:50pm Nosey Parker wrote:
As expected, usual council drivel
 
 
On 18 Nov 2008 at 3:04pm S. Oliver wrote:
Thank you so much Merlin for getting this. I pressume it is a letter from the Council. I think one of the neighbours has tried to get a response from Lib dem District Councillors, but none of them will reply. (is this Councillor Peter Gardiners inaccurate advice at work again, Geoff ? What is the point of a Cllr if they won't speak to the people who need them?)
The 'letter' is riddled with inaccuracies. It is verging on the devious.
The wall was never seperate from the other longer section. It was one, well documented continuous stretch of listed wall. LDC seem to have forgotten that in the early 1980's they owned the entire row of North St houses, and their Gardens, and the Car park when the houses, and the wall were restored, as part of a scheme. Some flats were incorporated into the large listed building at the Corner of North and East st The wall however was there long before any flats. In fact, it is rather naughty of the Council to try and pretend otherwise. If the wall was seperate from the rest, why do various residents have photographs of a single stretch of unbroken, continuous wall with no gaps, a continuous bond, patter, and function? The gap and a new buutress only appeared last year. Funny that. The wall concerned is the rear wall of 69, as described in the actual planning report, and the East St flats just form the side of the same building. Curtailage Listing is listing, the wall was until recently a single structure running from te rear of housing in Market St in one continuous piece right up to the flats, where it originally continued into form part of the rear extension of No 69, as it does now. Whatever grade listing, it is no less a criminal offence to demolish a listed structure, whether leaning or otherwise. Pisa comes to mind, and someone managed to prop that up. LDC can't even coipe with a wall, that is not a single skin brick wall, but a bond that is two bricks thik, linked with a stretcher, hence the check pattern. The pattern is the same of course, on both sides, for obvious reasons, but even this can't be grasped by LDC.
It should also be pointed out that until a year ago, the lower new section used to be considerably taller for several feet at one end, where it joined with the piece now left. That large 11 ft high section even had the original Georgian mortar. There was an elegant curved junction, that joined the two heights, topped with shaped capping, right to the East St end.
The bricks were not carefully saved last year, they nearly all disappeared in a skip. Where are they now? The new wall is a completely different colour, matches nothing in the Conservation Area, and has no permission, listed or otherwise. Some 'carefully' saved bricks are still left lying on the scaffolding, even now, as they have been for a year. It is amazing that they haven't been stolen. Though there may of course be fewer now, than 12 months ago. I doubt LDC have any idea.
So, LDC have created a new gap in this historic wall, that never existed before, and in the process demolished several feet of the tallest part, which you can now see has a ragged edge all the way down. They have removed all the original materials, and left the remainder open to theft, have redesigned the shape, including the curve, and coping, and replaced it with a shoddy flat piece of wall, made from unapproved bricks, and cement mortar, in a Conservation Area. Do the council honestly think no one has noticed, and didn't photograph the wall before and after it was demolished?
At the planning meeting the LDC finally admitted begrudgingly, that 'they probably do own the wall'
The fact is that the structure is listed in its entirety from one end to the other. Part of it was leaning, and there was a problem. The Council tried to pursue the very people who helpfully raised the alarm in the first place. This was particularly immoral. It seems that the motivation was to save money buy getting other people to pay for the work. In fact it seems that the Council are still tryiong to do this, and are trying to give the impression that residents are being 'difficult' The wall has been neglected by the Council for years, and they had not repaired it since a neglected lump fell off in the early 90's. The wall, did have a fascinating cobbled top.....but not after the Council 'repaired' it on that occasion.
What LDC seem to be engaged in now, is a failure to correct a mistake they made in demolishing part of a listed wall without permission, because in the current atmosphere of resident enlightenment, they don't want to admit that they demolished a listed structure. This is not illegal in itself, if safety is an issue, but not getting the required permissions as soon as they should, and presenting a misleading planning report is. The now retired Conservation Officer did not provide correct advice about the lising status of the wall, and none of the neighbours were asked. The Current Conservation is a massive improvement on the old one, and i doubt he is even aware of all this, which occurred before he started. The Council engineer concerned is the same man who tried to demolish Ham lane wall. he did eventually know that the wall was listed, because a neighbour told him. I wonder if he has any qualifications as a structural engineer?, as the comments being made by LDC about wall thichness, and Building reg. guidance, don't give me that impression.This late acknowledgement by the Council engineer, that any of the wall was Listed, is why the wall that is still left there now was not demolished. Neighbours made him check, and he discovered he had been wrong. Dealing with the mistake, by pretending a continuous wall is actually two, by knocking half down and rebuilding it with a gap is apalling. Thinking that residents cannot proove that the wall was all one structure, is either extraordinarily dumb, or desperate.
Finally, the application still isn't being handled correctly. The Planning Commitee may think they made a decision last week that needs to be confirmed, but they did not. Their comments were irrelevent, and have no legal basis for any decision. The application has to be sent off, not to be ratified, but for the decision to actually be made, impartialy, by the Secretary of State's department. This is because the Council are not allowed to consider their own listed building applications (see PPG15) Neighbours raised this before, and at the meeting, but no Councillors checked (including Cllr Peter Gardiner) so carried on regardless, and wasting everyone's time. This simply insults residents who unlike Officers, understood the appropriate planning law. Councillors also failed to realise that the 'collapsed' section referred to in the report that they were discussing, was not the same section that they were discussing rebuilding plans for. Did any of them read the report?. It was referring to two bits of the same listed wall, one of which disappeared and was rebuilt, and the other is still there. There is no attempt in the report to explain how one may be joined back to the other, and how they might match. of course a 'before' photograph would help......!
A total cock up, of the highest order, and a criminal act into the bargain.
Planning officers have finally realised neighbours were correct, and the decision was not being made legally, because residents eventually had to call the Office of the West Midlands, who make the actual decision, and get an officer there to call LDC. The report is a mess, is misleading, refers to inconsistent addresses, fails to acknowledge that part has already been demolished and rebuilt, and even proproses digging up resident's gardens without their permission, and filling them with concrete slabs and backfill. The Council never met with the residents as a group, and told different residents different things. English Heritage were not told about the lost section of wall (for obviouis reasons!)
Lewes is a Conservation Area, and it is about time LDC started treating it as one. This does not mean they cannot repair dangerous structures, they just neeed to do it carefully, and properly. Consulting honeslty and openly with residents affected would be a good start.
I do hope Merlin that you will purue this, and I would also like to know why your Lib Dem colleagues on LDC have neither checked the facts with the residents affected, or replied to their attempts to contact them. I know one resident even called a non planning Cllr up, at Norman Bakers suggestion and has heard nothing. What does the Code of Conduct say about that, Geoff?
 
 
On 18 Nov 2008 at 3:06pm s.oliver wrote:
Thank you so much Merlin for getting this. I pressume it is a letter from the Council. I think one of the neighbours has tried to get a response from Lib dem District Councillors, but none of them will reply. (is this Councillor Peter Gardiners inaccurate advice at work again, Geoff ? What is the point of a Cllr if they won't speak to the people who need them?)
The 'letter' is riddled with inaccuracies. It is verging on the devious.
The wall was never seperate from the other longer section. It was one, well documented continuous stretch of listed wall. LDC seem to have forgotten that in the early 1980's they owned the entire row of North St houses, and their Gardens, and the Car park when the houses, and the wall were restored, as part of a scheme. Some flats were incorporated into the large listed building at the Corner of North and East st The wall however was there long before any flats. In fact, it is rather naughty of the Council to try and pretend otherwise. If the wall was seperate from the rest, why do various residents have photographs of a single stretch of unbroken, continuous wall with no gaps, a continuous bond, patter, and function? The gap and a new buutress only appeared last year. Funny that. The wall concerned is the rear wall of 69, as described in the actual planning report, and the East St flats just form the side of the same building. Curtailage Listing is listing, the wall was until recently a single structure running from te rear of housing in Market St in one continuous piece right up to the flats, where it originally continued into form part of the rear extension of No 69, as it does now. Whatever grade listing, it is no less a criminal offence to demolish a listed structure, whether leaning or otherwise. Pisa comes to mind, and someone managed to prop that up. LDC can't even coipe with a wall, that is not a single skin brick wall, but a bond that is two bricks thik, linked with a stretcher, hence the check pattern. The pattern is the same of course, on both sides, for obvious reasons, but even this can't be grasped by LDC.
It should also be pointed out that until a year ago, the lower new section used to be considerably taller for several feet at one end, where it joined with the piece now left. That large 11 ft high section even had the original Georgian mortar. There was an elegant curved junction, that joined the two heights, topped with shaped capping, right to the East St end.
The bricks were not carefully saved last year, they nearly all disappeared in a skip. Where are they now? The new wall is a completely different colour, matches nothing in the Conservation Area, and has no permission, listed or otherwise. Some 'carefully' saved bricks are still left lying on the scaffolding, even now, as they have been for a year. It is amazing that they haven't been stolen. Though there may of course be fewer now, than 12 months ago. I doubt LDC have any idea.
So, LDC have created a new gap in this historic wall, that never existed before, and in the process demolished several feet of the tallest part, which you can now see has a ragged edge all the way down. They have removed all the original materials, and left the remainder open to theft, have redesigned the shape, including the curve, and coping, and replaced it with a shoddy flat piece of wall, made from unapproved bricks, and cement mortar, in a Conservation Area. Do the council honestly think no one has noticed, and didn't photograph the wall before and after it was demolished?
At the planning meeting the LDC finally admitted begrudgingly, that 'they probably do own the wall'
The fact is that the structure is listed in its entirety from one end to the other. Part of it was leaning, and there was a problem. The Council tried to pursue the very people who helpfully raised the alarm in the first place. This was particularly immoral. It seems that the motivation was to save money buy getting other people to pay for the work. In fact it seems that the Council are still tryiong to do this, and are trying to give the impression that residents are being 'difficult' The wall has been neglected by the Council for years, and they had not repaired it since a neglected lump fell off in the early 90's. The wall, did have a fascinating cobbled top.....but not after the Council 'repaired' it on that occasion.
What LDC seem to be engaged in now, is a failure to correct a mistake they made in demolishing part of a listed wall without permission, because in the current atmosphere of resident enlightenment, they don't want to admit that they demolished a listed structure. This is not illegal in itself, if safety is an issue, but not getting the required permissions as soon as they should, and presenting a misleading planning report is. The now retired Conservation Officer did not provide correct advice about the lising status of the wall, and none of the neighbours were asked. The Current Conservation is a massive improvement on the old one, and i doubt he is even aware of all this, which occurred before he started. The Council engineer concerned is the same man who tried to demolish Ham lane wall. he did eventually know that the wall was listed, because a neighbour told him. I wonder if he has any qualifications as a structural engineer?, as the comments being made by LDC about wall thichness, and Building reg. guidance, don't give me that impression.This late acknowledgement by the Council engineer, that any of the wall was Listed, is why the wall that is still left there now was not demolished. Neighbours made him check, and he discovered he had been wrong. Dealing with the mistake, by pretending a continuous wall is actually two, by knocking half down and rebuilding it with a gap is apalling. Thinking that residents cannot proove that the wall was all one structure, is either extraordinarily dumb, or desperate.
Finally, the application still isn't being handled correctly. The Planning Commitee may think they made a decision last week that needs to be confirmed, but they did not. Their comments were irrelevent, and have no legal basis for any decision. The application has to be sent off, not to be ratified, but for the decision to actually be made, impartialy, by the Secretary of State's department. This is because the Council are not allowed to consider their own listed building applications (see PPG15) Neighbours raised this before, and at the meeting, but no Councillors checked (including Cllr Peter Gardiner) so carried on regardless, and wasting everyone's time. This simply insults residents who unlike Officers, understood the appropriate planning law. Councillors also failed to realise that the 'collapsed' section referred to in the report that they were discussing, was not the same section that they were discussing rebuilding plans for. Did any of them read the report?. It was referring to two bits of the same listed wall, one of which disappeared and was rebuilt, and the other is still there. There is no attempt in the report to explain how one may be joined back to the other, and how they might match. of course a 'before' photograph would help......!
A total cock up, of the highest order, and a criminal act into the bargain.
Planning officers have finally realised neighbours were correct, and the decision was not being made legally, because residents eventually had to call the Office of the West Midlands, who make the actual decision, and get an officer there to call LDC. The report is a mess, is misleading, refers to inconsistent addresses, fails to acknowledge that part has already been demolished and rebuilt, and even proproses digging up resident's gardens without their permission, and filling them with concrete slabs and backfill. The Council never met with the residents as a group, and told different residents different things. English Heritage were not told about the lost section of wall (for obviouis reasons!)
Lewes is a Conservation Area, and it is about time LDC started treating it as one. This does not mean they cannot repair dangerous structures, they just neeed to do it carefully, and properly. Consulting honeslty and openly with residents affected would be a good start.
I do hope Merlin that you will purue this, and I would also like to know why your Lib Dem colleagues on LDC have neither checked the facts with the residents affected, or replied to their attempts to contact them. I know one resident even called a non planning Cllr up, at Norman Bakers suggestion and has heard nothing. What does the Code of Conduct say about that, Geoff?
(have I beaten Ben's record?)
 
 
On 18 Nov 2008 at 9:01pm Chav wrote:
Couldn't read all that. Too much verbal diareah, diorear, diariar, too much talking sh1t
 
 
On 18 Nov 2008 at 9:07pm Spinster Of This Parish wrote:
Diarrhoea
 
 
On 18 Nov 2008 at 9:17pm Chav wrote:
Thanks sweet cheeks. Fancy a pizza and half a bottle of rose'? Its been on the side for a while but it should be ok
 
 
On 18 Nov 2008 at 9:37pm Lopster wrote:
Yah Boo Sucks - I read it
go s.oliver you tell 'em - not a patch on ben's repetitive defences of his own words - yours make excellent reading - oh what a laugh our Concil are - shame that we all suffer as a result - APPEAL EVERY COUNCILLOR
 
 
On 18 Nov 2008 at 9:48pm zola wrote:
I read it too,and don't know enough about it to make an opinion...But it is VERY interesting all the same.
 
 
On 18 Nov 2008 at 11:45pm Sashka wrote:
I've known about this for ages, as we saw this lovely wall demolished. What i want to know is why our Council is actively looking for reasons to demolish a nice wall in a conservation area, and instead of rebuilding it as it was, replacing it with a crappy one that doesn't relate to anything.
 
 
On 19 Nov 2008 at 8:35am Billy Bored wrote:
Jeez, you are one bored lady. Ever considered getting a boyfriend to occupy your time?
 
 
On 19 Nov 2008 at 10:28am Local wrote:
I assume a Sussex Express reporter reads this. Why not try something different - look into it and write a story?
 
 
On 19 Nov 2008 at 10:43am Geoff wrote:
So, prompted by S.Oliver, I asked a neighbour if they have had any luck with Councillors. Guess what? They contacted 4, and none have had the decency to reply. What do they think they are elected for? One town Councillor has spoken to a resident, so I hope he will spend the time to go and meet with them, and find out what has actually been going on. Another point scored by Lewes Town Council. I see now why the Council rebuilt the wall with a gap. They thought at the time, that it was the only bit they owned! They are now re-inventing the facts after the event, as a damage limitation excrecise. Blaming the poor residents, that they will not even speak to, is very revealing.
 
 
On 19 Nov 2008 at 12:43pm not from around here wrote:
Where is this wall? Must be some heck of wall to generate so much controversy. Seriously, where is it?
 
 
On 20 Nov 2008 at 11:32am Geoff wrote:
Well, you will all be amazed to learn, that following two posts on this site (such as the one above) publicising the fact that 4 councillors had failed to help residents in North st. One of them called up a neighbour. Hooray for Lewes forum, the web site that achieves things!
I hope that Councillor does he can to remedy the problem that has worsened because of the way Councillors have left residents to fend for themselves. By the way, Councillor Gardiner was one of the 4, but no one has heard from him. He has written a very silly letter to the Sussex Express on the very subject of walls, titled 'not a twitten wall' Should read 'is a twit' He doesn't seem to realise that his officers haven't passed on information provided by a number of respected professionals that makes it clear that the wall he has approved demolishing, behind Lewes house, marks the boundary of an ancient twitten. One expert actually asked the Council to preserve the footprint of that wall. Unfortunately the Councils heritage wrecking ball has already struck, and a medieval feature that has survived in variuos forms since the 13th century, has now disapperaed.. The resident he contradicted, had even obtained legal advice, but he has rubbished it without checking it. I asked that resident if he had contacted her to check, before he put his foot in it, in the paper, but no. He may be a scientist, but knows nothing about checking the evidence. I despair at his 'bull in a china shop' behaviour, and his failure to represent the electorate, preferring to be a mouthpiece for Council Officers. Will he ever read that Code of Conduct?
 
 
On 20 Nov 2008 at 12:54pm Local wrote:
Excellent post Geoff. I m ust say I'm surprised we have not heard anything from Ben, the man with balanced opinions.
 
 
On 20 Nov 2008 at 12:54pm Local wrote:
Excellent post Geoff. I m ust say I'm surprised we have not heard anything from Ben, the man with balanced opinions.
 
 
On 20 Nov 2008 at 5:33pm Another Town Centre Resident wrote:
I went to the Planning Office today. No one could explain why there is no Planning Application for this giant piece of wall, only a Listed Building Application. I think this is a mistake, and so did the person I talked to.
Neither could the officer explain why there was no consent for the badly rebuilt bit. (I think it needs consent under the Article 4 Directive) the report has invented the idea that there were two walls, but this is not true. I question why the applicant ( a Council Property services officer) would try and mislead Planning officers, and Councillors like this. There is no evidence in the file that there were two walls, and no photographic evidence, as mysteriously it was the only detail the officer did not North St, and they share a door. it is one property, and to try and pretend that some of the flats are in a different building from the other is also questionable. The entire plot was listed, and that includes the new flats (which needed listed building consent to be constructed) and the rebuilt wall. If No 69 needed Listed Building consent, and so did the flats that formed part of no 69, then they are both listed, as is the curtailage. It is a shame that Councillors do not do the research that residents do.
 
 
On 23 Nov 2008 at 8:02pm Mystic Mog wrote:
Sometimes you only need listed building consent for some things and not planning
 
 
On 24 Nov 2008 at 8:21am Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
You're quite right Mog, but wouldn't you think the planning office would have someone on the staff who could explain this to a resident?
I think our planning department would be in the running iof there were a competition for the most useless in the country. It makes the lost million quid a mere trifle, really.
 
 
On 24 Nov 2008 at 5:50pm S.Oliver wrote:
You only need listed building consent for things like changing small internal features, or maybe replacing a window. This is because it isn't a planning issue. Demolishing an entire stretch of wall, building buttresses, and making similar changes in the public realm, is more than just Listed Building consent. The attempt to pretend that there were two walls was a way for the applicant to try and avoid listed building consent, but was flawed, and clumsy. Neither is it true! Why an officer would invent this is something that the Council should explain.


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