Firstly, please note, this is not party political, as I consider myself completely independent.
Parliament’s new National Planning Framework (PNPPF) puts our historic environment in jeopardy.
Dr. David Starkey (our brilliant Tudor historian), has long urged that more British history should be taught in our schools. However, this seems to have fallen on deaf ears and we are now seeing the negative effects.
All this arises because the changes to planning law within the National Planning Frame work, which are designed to favour and facilitate development, especially of housing and commercial activity, thus putting Local Government and their planners in particular under pressure and weakening their willingness to enforce national guidelines.
In short, planning and conservation officer are clearly out of their depth, I have many cases to illustrate my point, not least my personal struggle to protect the integrity of an historic grade II* manor house and the accompanying grade 1 medieval church which are historically connected and therefore by four of the weaknesses contained above.
A few years ago, in our village, we had a pallet yard that grew out of all proportion and caused the village and the Council an enormous amount of problems. Anyone in their right mind could and should have seen that the location was inappropriate and that business would continue to expand. The Council (at great public cost) struggled for years to close the pallet yard down and yet, today, they are repeating the same mistake, just a few yards away in an even more sensitive location, causing a blight on two heavily listed buildings. The house, which has been open to the public and has been developing educational programmes, however, due to the enormous disruption at the barns, has been forced to close.
My late partner (Ms. Hamilton, now deceased, 2014) and I were first attracted to Lincolnshire, because of Ellys Manor House (EMH); near-on thirty-four years ago. We could not believe that a building of this significance was not being realised. Although, for some years the English Tourist Board were trying to have the doors open to the public. At the time the house was being used as a Rectory House, incidentally, the last incumbent Rector’s daughter who grew up at the then rectory, became a Planning Officer at SKDC.
After many years of sacrifice and hounded of thousands of pounds (no public funds, all personally financed). In about 2008, we opened our doors to the public, and thought if the barns next door, which were the working buildings to the house ever came on the market, we would try to acquirer them as our international culture centre. I first met with Mr Ian Wright, Principal Planning & Conservation Officer, who seemed to be doing and suggesting all the right things. My next meeting with Mr Wright, was with Dr Dale Dishon of English Heritage, to look at the possibility of building facilities in the garden at EMH. After the meeting, I invited Mr Wright into my home to see the rare late medieval wall paintings, on reflection, little to nothing was said. There were other meetings to follow, but always seem to be properly conducted.
With the Government’s new National Planning Framework in place, Parliament giving local authorities the responsibilities for the day to day planning control in their area. Things now appear very different, Mr Wright, who incidentally, is not only the Principal Planning and Conservation Officer, but he is also an affiliated member to Heritage Gateway, whose partners are: The Institute-of-Historic Buildings & Conservation, Historic England and the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers. Mr Wright has taken matters into his own hands, seeking no specialist advice with anybody from Heritage England. He and his colleagues now all Boyed-up with power are as follows: -
Mr Aidan Rave, Chief Executive Officer of South Kesteven District Council.
Mr Steve Ingram, South Kesteven District Council Strategic Director, now also President of Planning Officers Society the organisation representing England’s public sector planners.
Mr Steven Bowyer, studied economic regeneration and heritage at University of Bath, worked for English Heritage, twenty-five years’ experience, he has the reins of InvestSK.
Mr Jonathon Short, Senior Enforcement Officer.
All of the above are highly experienced men in their field, and head of their departments, if they are not colluding with the Welham (at the barns), my neighbour of not quite three years, then they must all be either ignorant, incompetent, or this is malicious.
Somebody from the SKDC Planning & Conservation Office has now reported us (EMH) to the Valuation Office Agency. I invited them to the house to see things were in order. However, when Mr Wayne Cox (head of his department, with twenty-seven years’ experience (he informed me soon after arriving at the house), with his colleague Ms Diana Haines. As we carried out inspections, I assured them that monies taken barely paid for the next years leaflets, Mr Cox, agreed, but went on to say, “I will rate you non-domestic, you can appeal if you want to”. I knew this was a ploy, and I have proof.
To conclude, I perceive this appalling situation that we and our combined site of considerable local (Lincolnshire) and national historical and cultural importance are experiencing, has come about as a consequence of the new National Planning Framework which is intended to liberate planning but does so by not ensuring any rigour or qualitative application.
www.ellysmanorhouse.com or www.merchantellys.com
Tel: 01476 530 023