It is a shameful situation in that four years after Cornwall Council became aware of the plight of St Columb Rectory still nothing has been done to stem water penetration through a hole in the roof, remove vegetation from the building and secure it against trespass. Despite pressure from the CBG, English Heritage and the Victorian Society, Cornwall Council have failed in their duty of care through a catalogue of delaying tactics. While we await with interest a report on the damage of the past four years worth of neglect (which the CBG have requested a copy under the Freedom of Information Act) it is now clear that Cornwall Council will apply for 80% grant funding from English Heritage. With local council elections potentially delaying the whole process further Cornwall Council will give no pledge that they will even give 20% of the costs.
In March 2013 we have contacted Steve Double, prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate for St Austell and Newquay, to pursue the case further into County Hall.
Letter to Cornwall Council, the Victorian Society,
English Heritage and SAVE.
The Cornish Buildings Group are taking a strong stance on safegaurding the future of this fine rectory because our members and Council feel that this is a important grade 2* listed structure. As a group we are primarily distressed that this moated rectory by William White, a building on the Heritage at Risk register, is at present neither watertight nor secure to trespass. Our secondary concern is for its long-term future.
We are aware and appreciate that CC, EH and VS are taking this situation seriously and are not for one moment suggesting that parties are ‘sitting on your hands’. However, the situation regarding water ingress was first drawn to our attention in October 2010 and, despite much debate, has yet to be resolved. The situation, as we see it, is that we have a group of well meaning people with clipboards all looking at a hole in the roof with no authority to authorise a repair. Meanwhile the house is getting seriously damaged. Furthermore, internet evidence also shows that Urban Explorers are entering the building at will, a situation that curiously has been encouraged by the VS who have tweeted the links. Clearly this heightens the risk of arson of vandalism.
We hope as the complex issue of custodianship develops that a more radical approach is adopted. Yet, in the short-term we are urging for essential works to be carried out on the building or for a repairs notice or charge to be implemented. It is our opinion that repairs would not be an onerous task indeed, a day on site is probably all it would take to see the building through the winter. Such commitment to this high-profile structure may well convince critics that CC are at least caring for our heritage.
A long term solution, we appreciate, is more of a challenge however we hope that serious consideration can be given towards forcing the sale of the property or that a future solution can be detrmined, perhaps through the Buildings Preservation Trust.
We would very much appreciate a response to this email, or an acknowledgement that works will promptly ensue, before our next Council meeting on Thursday 6 December where we will discuss the matter further and determine our next course of action.
Paul Holden, FSA
Chair, Cornish Buildings Group