Owner evicted from Falmouth’s historic Marlborough House First published in Falmouth Packet Friday 5 December 2014 in News

MarlboroughMarlborough House was built in 1810 for John Bull, a Packet service captain, who named the building after his ship the Duke of Marlborough. It is a grade II* listed, three storey country house, which features a relief of the ship in a central bay on the front of the building. Bull’s ship engaged in action while out on service, including one occasion when it was mistaken for an enemy off Cape Finisterre and battled HMS Primrose, which came off worse despite outmanning and outgunning the Packet vessel, and the captain was awarded a ceremonial sword for his bravery.

One of Falmouth’s most iconic buildings, which has fallen into disrepair, was visited by bailiffs on Tuesday for an eviction to be carried out.

Stephen Barrett, who has owned Marlborough House in Silverdale Road for the last ten years, was not present when locksmiths, accompanied by police officers and representatives of Savills estate agents, cut the chain on the gates of the Georgian property.

The bailiffs were at the gates of the house some time before 11am to enforce a warrant issued by Truro County Court on November 19 on behalf of the Bank of Scotland. A notice posted on the gates of Marlborough House stated that as England is a common law jurisdiction, the owner had removed any implied right of access to the property. The notice also stated that he would charge anyone entering the property according to what he sees as his common law rights – an observation which did not stop the bailiffs or police.

Concerns had been raised regarding Mr Barrett’s possession of Marlborough House after the building had started to noticeably decay, with local residents and the Cornish Buildings Group noting that the front porch was falling down and the gardens had been left to grow wild.

Paul Holden, chairman of the Cornish Buildings Group, said: “Some members have spoken to me about their concern for Marlborough House, and the way the property is beginning to look run down. It’s one of our most important Grade II* listed buildings in Cornwall, and the heritage value is so important.”

Local residents, who did not wish to be named, said: “Marlborough House is one of the most significant houses in Falmouth. The owner had been planning to restore it to its original splendour, but nothing could be further from the truth. The front porch is falling down. The front has been paint when in fact it should be pink like all the other properties around here.”

Mr Holden added that he felt although people had raised concerns about the house, he felt they did not “want to stick their head above the parapet.” 

Nina Paternoster, senior development officer at Cornwall Council, which is responsible for listed buildings in Cornwall, said: “The council is aware of the concerns expressed by residents and local amenity groups and have been monitoring the site. Should there be any change in the condition of the building, further investigations may be undertaken by the council’s Planning Enforcement Service.”

An agent from Savills was on hand on Tuesday morning to carry out an evaluation, saying the company will be selling the property on behalf of the bank in the near future. Eversheds solicitors, who acted on behalf of the Bank of Scotland in carrying out the eviction, said it was “not in any position to disclose any information” on why Mr Barrett was evicted. Mr Barrett could not be contacted for comment.

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Why was Tremorvah House Demolished?

Our Historic Environment Strategy Lead Officer, Dan Ratcliffe, tells the Cornish Buildings Group why.

‘In line with our statutory duties set out in the Planning Act 1990 (s 69, s 71) the boundary and the special interest of the Truro Conservation Area was appraised and reviewed and a management plan developed between 2005-2010, initially by the Conservation Section of Carrick District Council and latterly by the Historic Environment Service. The initial detailed appraisal work was undertaken on Carrick DC’s behalf by the then CCC Historic Environment Service (HES) in 2005, with a Management Plan subsequently developed in 2010 by Alan Baxter Associates (ABA). This process reviewed and amended the boundary of the Conservation Area, the management plan and revised boundary being adopted in March 2010. When a Council considers the designation of Conservation Areas it is of course careful only to include those areas that can clearly demonstrate the required special interest so as not to dilute the overall value of such designations.

The area referred to (between the Catholic church and Parklands) includes 4 of 16 character areas that were identified by the HES appraisal as potential extensions to the Conservation Area, and these were later formally assessed for their suitability by the ABA work. Agar Road, which also lies within this area, was already a part of the Conservation Area. Of these 4 areas, only the area lying between St Austell Road, Mitchell Road, Agar Road and Tregolls Road (containing the Catholic church) was felt to demonstrate sufficient special interest, and being already surrounded on three sides by the Conservation Area this was felt to be a logical extension. Demolition of buildings within this area now require planning permission and as part of the Conservation Area the area is subject to the policies for ‘designated heritage assets’ within the NPPF.

The remaining three areas considered consist of the informal grounds of the demolished Tregolls House [8], the housing (and the now demolished Brooklands Hotel) along the south east side of Tregolls Road [9], and the land represented by the historic curtilages of Alverton and Tremorvah [10]. These areas were not recommended by ABA for designation. The ABA Management Plan gives the following reasons for non-designation of these three areas. In general the conclusion seems to have been that the enlargement of Tregolls Road and the infill development around Alverton and Tremorvah had already unfortunately eroded and disrupted the overall coherence of the area.

“[8] Because of the dual carriageway in Tregolls Road this proposed extension would not form a coherent part of the Conservation Area. Any proposed development in this area would be assessed for its impact on the setting of the Conservation Area.
[9] Some historically interesting individual houses, but like [8] too cut off from the Conservation Area.
[10] The two houses are interesting but the adjoining development in the area, and the frontage to Tregolls Road, means that this area has little consistent overall character.”

The decision by the council not to designate these areas means of course that (with the exception of Alverton and its curtilage structures which are Listed GII*) LPA consent is not required for demolition of buildings within it, although notably the Management Plan did identify some interest in all of these areas which means they can be treated as ‘non-designated heritage assets’ as defined by the NPPF.

In general terms in the event that demolition of non-designated heritage assets in the area formed part of an application for planning permission then the approach set out in the NPPF (Chapter 12) would apply. The significance of those assets and the degree of harm would be material considerations in coming to a balanced judgement regarding the determination of those applications. P128 of the Framework would indicate that such applications should be informed by proportionate assessments of the significance of assets affected, and demonstrate consultation of the Historic Environment Record (HER). Documents within the HER making reference to the character and significance of features within this area include the Conservation Area Appraisal, the Management Plan and the Urban Survey for Truro.

We are of course statutorily required to have ‘special regard’ to the setting of the GII* Alverton’.

Should anyone require any further information or clarification, Mr. Ratcliffe can be contacted via email at dratcliffe@cornwall.gov.uk

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Archived press release ‘Concerns over Truro’

The Cornish Buildings Group and Truro Civic Society have joined forces to raise concerns about historic buildings in Truro.

Paul Holden, Chairman of the Cornish Buildings Group, said ‘Both groups are concerned about the loss of historic character on Tregolls Road which in terms of buildings it is the most historic approach into the City. At the top of the hill the old workhouse has successfully been converted but further down the road a 1930s bungalow, the Brookdale Hotel, the 1960s AA building, Tregolls House, the Police Station and two pubs have been demolished, not to mention the row of 19th century cottages lost to make room for a 1960s car showroom. Furthermore the abandoned Grade II* listed St Paul’s church is in a perilous state and nearby the historic Tremorvah House is in the process of being demolished’.

Tremorvah-House2-600x300Both groups are asking how Tremorvah House, a building of quality and with a strong connection with Truro’s past, can be demolished without Cornwall Council raising any concerns. Built for Philip Prothero Smith (knighted in 1880), four times mayor of Truro, Tremorvah House was built in the Italianate style in 1845. A fire in 1888 destroyed two-thirds of the original roof and attics and a bedroom in the west wing. It is unlisted and not in a conservation area and has until recently been used as offices. It was on the open market last year.

Bert Biscoe, Chairman of the Truro Civic Society, who tried to get the building listed, said ‘As Tremorvah House is neither protected in its own right or within a conservation area, it will be lost because no consent is required to demolish it. As there are lots of other buildings of merit or interest that contribute to the story of the town or neighbourhood we are keen to see Cornwall Council develop a series of Local Lists for Cornish towns, which will provide at least a modicum of protection, especially at a time when clear values seem to be under intense pressure from speculation’.

Paul Holden added ‘With everything that has gone on in this important area of Truro the historic approach is effectively eroding over time and is thereby losing any historic character it retains. We call on Cornwall Council to actively protect such areas either through local lists or by extending conservation areas as and when appropriate to the risk’.

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From Saltash to St Erth- heritage in peril

Saltash stationThe very first thing a train visitor sees when they enter Cornwall over Brunel’s landmark bridge is a deserted and un-kept building, overgrown with weeds and vandalised. Despite attempts by the Cornish Buildings Group to get an Urgent Repairs Notice issued for Saltash station nothing has been done for years. Yet, the old station is not the only Cornish building in peril. Our group has long campaigned for St Columb Rectory, one of the most important listed buildings in the county, which too has been left to rot for five years. If remedial work to make good a hole in the roof and remove vegetation was done when the Cornish Buildings Group first approached Cornwall Council three years ago the cost of repairs would have reduced tenfold. The Victorian Society has also made this a high profile case, a case officer has written to Cornwall Council stating ‘Rather than a legal duty of care towards the building which has been the focus of recent correspondence, we would rather wish to stress the moral and community duty of Cornwall Council to ensure the preservation of this nationally significant building. The Bishop’s Palace at St Columb Major is a treasure of Cornwall, and its loss, which is daily becoming an ever more likely scenario, would be a serious one for the county and the nation’. The Chief Executive of Cornwall Council has refused to comment.

Other high profile buildings in key tourist destinations are also being neglected. The Grade 1 Listed Market House in Penzance is suffering through neglect, as is one of the most important Georgian buildings in Cornwall, Marlborough House in Falmouth. The Victorian Society and Georgian Group have shown interest in these two buildings but again Cornwall Council has failed to enforce repairs notices or comment on their states of disrepair.

Paul Holden, Chairman of the group, said ‘The Cornish Buildings Group exists to promote good architectural design and champion the historic environment. We have to carefully consider what are appropriate styles of architecture in historically sensitive areas and we have look after what is already there, after all it is what drives our visitor economy. What will tourists think when they see iconic buildings in various states of disrepair, boarded up and neglected’. Mr Holden added ‘Cutbacks at Cornwall Council have meant many requests go unanswered and in consequence some historic buildings are being left open to the elements. Mithian’s church at Chiverton Cross, Blackwater, has holes in the roof and smashed stained glass panels while in Penzance and St Columb shop fronts are left in various states of dilapidation creating frustration for residents and visitors alike’.

st-erth-railway-station-Neglect is not the only threat to our historic environment. The latest proposals for planning permission to replace a historic foot bridge at St Erth Station (left) with suburban commuter style lift towers, 35’ high, is another crass and unsubtle attempt to get rid of an important and (so-far) unspoilt group of Listed buildings of the late 19th century. John Stenglehofen, Vice Chairman of the Group, said ‘The Cornish Buildings Group like the Parish Council and English Heritage are far from happy with the proposals. Following the refusal of an earlier attempt, with 200 yards of ramps and landings zigzagging up to a new bridge and obliterating a prominent area of trees, the second attempt shows the continuing inability of Network Rail to respect the Listed Building status of the group which comprises a historically significant and charming station whose rarity and its importance is widely recognised nationally. There seems to be a general inability by Network Rail’s consultants to look at non-standard solutions, but this is the only way an acceptable solution can be found for a unique Listed site; we have seen two unacceptable attempts that have delayed the project and increased costs, not least the professional fees for abortive work that never justified more than a first sketch, let alone their development to a full planning application’.

Mr Holden concluded ‘It is vital that we care for all our historic assets and consider how good design can contribute to Cornwall’s aesthetic wellbeing. Of course one thing that affects both is the many wind turbine applications that are getting approval which clearly has a huge adverse effect on the landscape and setting of historic buildings.’

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Archive Press Release August 2014

The Cornish Buildings Group is calling on Cornwall Council to rethink radical changes being made to the Environment and Planning departments. Impacts on front line services, such as, the demise of the natural resources team and a significant reduction in numbers of conservation officers and archaeologists will undoubtedly affect the quality of advice given in respect of supporting effective planning and historic environment services.

Paul Holden, Chairman of the group said ‘Mistakes in the treatment of our historic environment are now becoming increasingly common. The fact that no Environmental Assessments were conducted before building the new Sainsbury’s superstore in Penzance or demolishing the Foster Complex in Bodmin is shameful. Likewise the obvious neglect of other heritage assets, such as, the grade 2* listed St Columb Rectory (pictured); the Georgian house in Chapel Street, Penzance (formerly the Ganges Restaurant); St Peter’s Church, Mithian Parish Church at Chiverton; Redruth Old Fire Station and the site adjoining Hayman House in Redruth show a real lack of commitment by Cornwall Council towards our rich and varied heritage’.The Group also feel that because of austerity cut-backs insufficent regard might be given to the settings of designated historic assets in the wake of numerous wind-farm applications.

Mr Holden added ‘There appears to be a real lack of engagement now between the public and planning and enforcement and historic buildings specialists. With more people being forced out of key positions by the corporate strategies that Cornwall Council are adopting the potential to make mistakes through the neglect of our environment are prevalent’.

John Stengelhofen, Vice Chair of the Group, added ‘It is a huge disappointment that as the county’s natural resources decline towards non-existence we show less and less concern to preserve the landscape and its historic features. As well as providing us with a pleasant environment in which to live they are the resource of our remaining industry. Tourism will be compromised with no effective planning control and no effective historic environment department. Cornwall Council will ensure we spoil what is left of our countryside as, in turn, the historic built environment is progressively ruined. The tourist industry will inevitably join mining and quarrying as just another industry of the past.’

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Press Release

Ground breaking Council project to survey 500 listed buildings in north and south east Cornwall is awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant

05 November 2013

A ground breaking project which will see Cornwall Council working with local groups and volunteers to survey the condition of 500 Grade II Listed buildings in north and south east Cornwall has been awarded a grant of £18,600 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The Cornwall Listed Buildings at Risk project is being led by the Council’s Historic Environment service who will train more than 25 volunteers from existing groups and societies to carry out the survey.

As well as the grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, five local societies – the Cornish Buildings Group, Cornwall Archaeological Society, Cornwall Buildings Preservation Trust, Cornwall Heritage Trust and Caradon Archaeology – are making financial contributions and / or directly supporting the project.

The survey will take place during November and December, with the project due for completion at the end of March 2014.

The main aims of the project include building on the wealth of public interest and support for Cornwall’s heritage; giving volunteers new practical skills, and enabling volunteers, building owners and the public to learn more about the quality and diversity of historic buildings and the risks that some of them face; and raising the profile of several voluntary groups.  It will also create a legacy of greater volunteer engagement in managing Cornwall’s heritage, and increase the capacity of groups to do more surveys.

“There are more than 12,820 Listed Buildings in Cornwall”said Nick Cahill, Cornwall Council’s Historic Environment Information and Policy Team Leader. “These include milestones and bridges, churches and funerary monuments, industrial structures, domestic houses and commercial premises.  Over 11,874 of these are Grade II Listed structures which have never had their condition monitored.

“The project will be focusing on north and south eastCornwall as there has been significantly less investment in heritage projects and regeneration in this area than in other parts of Cornwall.  The 500 buildings are sited across a variety of locations, including one principal town and a number of smaller towns and settlements.

“Following the completion of the survey we will be able to identify possible solutions to those at risk and measure the resources needed to address this.”

Welcoming the grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund Edwina Hannaford, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Heritage and Planning, said “This is very good news for Cornwall.  We are rightly very proud of our culture and heritage and this project will enable us to carry out a detailed assessment of the condition of some of our most historic buildings. This information can then be used to promote heritage led regeneration projects.

“As well as helping to raise awareness of the diversity and quality of these historic buildings, and the potential threats facing some of them, the project will encourage local groups and volunteers to work together to increase their skills and help protect our heritage for the future.”

Commenting on the importance of the award, Nerys Watts, Heritage Lottery Fund’s Head of South West said “Cornwall’s rich and varied built heritage is a key part of the character and beauty of the county.  By engaging local people in surveying and learning about some of the most threatened structures, this fascinating project will ensure that they continue to be cared for and valued into the future”.


Notes to editors

The Historic Environment Service provides comprehensive advice, information, research and leadership that enable Cornwall Council to fulfil its aims and objectives for Cornwall’s historic environment.

The archaeology, buildings, settlements, historic landscapes and seascapes of Cornwall are a finite and non-renewable environmental resource. This unique historic environment gives identity to our villages, towns and countryside, helps defineCornwall’s distinctive character, contributes to community pride and quality of life and provides significant economic, educational and social benefits.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.

HLF has supported over 35,000 projects with more than £5.5bn across the UK: www.hlf.org.uk.

For further information about the project please email the project co-ordinator Nick Cahill: ncahill@cornwall.gov.uk

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Wind Energy and the Historic Environment.

The Cornish Buildings Group does not, as yet, have a policy on wind turbines placed in an historic setting however we reserve to comment on an application for the Port Quin turbine (PA11 08573) that has a diverse affect on the sense of place. In this case we feel that the wind turbines planned are wholly unappropriate. We believe that the setting at Port Quin buildings will be severely compromised by this turbine, thereby damaging the character of the AONB, and to the enjoyment of the amenity of the coastal footpath. We feel that this area should be preserved and that the settings of historic buildings at Port Quin, Trelights and Doyden Head be retained. We object based on scale of turbine and visual dominence, its intervisability on the historic setting which despite its reversibility will create a lasting scar on this wonderful site.
NB April 2012 Planning refused .

For free Englsih Heritage advice and downloadable publication go to http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/wind-energy-and-the-historic-environment/

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