Couple fined over building alterations

The Peak District National Park Authority has warned owners it won’t tolerate ‘reckless alterations of historic buildings’.

It comes after a married couple were ordered to pay £42,000 in penalties after making unauthorised alterations to a building dating back to the 17th century.

Christopher and Sarah Gillott, along with joiner Simon Mcloughlin, were sentenced at Derby Crown Court (pictured) following a prosecution by the authority.

In what is believed to be one of the first cases of its kind in Listed Building prosecutions, Mr and Mrs Gillott, of Hurds Hollow, Matlock, were ordered to pay £20,000 each under the Proceeds of Crime Act. 

They were each fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £5000 costs. 

Mr Mcloughlin, who carried out the work, was fined £250 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs.

The Gillots had previously pleaded guilty at Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court, to five charges relating to their former home, The Lodge - a Grade II listed building within the conservation area of Winster. 

Mr Mcloughlin, of Greenhill, Wirksworth, also pleaded guilty to five charges.

Judge Jonathan Bennett heard that, between September 2007 and December 2016, a cruck truss ‘of highly significant historic and architectural interest’ was removed from the attic of The Lodge and replaced with a modern A-Frame.

Oak ceiling beams and purlins, also likely to have dated from the 17th or early 18th centuries, were removed and replaced with ‘inappropriate, non-traditional, utilitarian’ alternatives, while floor and ceiling heights were altered.

The park authority became aware of the changes in December 2016 when it received an enquiry, relating to windows and doors, from the current owner of The Lodge.

Nina Pindham, representing the Peak District National Park Authority, said Mr and Mrs Gillott had previously received permission for works and approval of a grant for roof repairs. A condition of the grant had been to ‘retain all historic timbers’.

John Wilford, representing Mr and Mrs Gillott, said the couple had planned to use the property as a B&B and tea shop but had become ‘overwhelmed’ by the works.

The court heard the parties agreed that Mr and Mrs Gillott had benefited by around £40,000, based on a professional valuation, as a result of works carried out at The Lodge.

With costs, the full penalty imposed on the couple is more than £50,000.

After the hearing, the park authority’s director of conservation and planning, John Scott, said: “This prosecution shows that not only the Peak District National Park Authority, but also the courts, regard historic building crime as very serious.

“It should act as a deterrent to anyone proposing to carry out unauthorised works to the detriment of the historic or architectural significance of a listed building.

“Historic buildings and their features are irreplaceable records of our history and, once lost, are gone forever.”

He added: “We have a statutory duty to preserve the character of listed buildings, including any features of special architectural or historic interest. 

“This case sends out a clear message that we will not tolerate reckless alterations of historic buildings.”

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