In Issue 54 of 'The Little Green Book', I see that Councillor Money recently made a visit to Nocton Hall. He comments: 'I was shocked at the deterioration that has taken place since my last visit over a year ago. The exposed limestone masonry is now saturated with the heavy January rains and if we get some hard frosts in February or March the stone work will expand and break up further.'
|Nocton Hall - South Wing|
North Kesteven District Council have had this property under review for many years, yet seem to be at a total loss of what to do next. This is despite having all the necessary legislation available to act before this property is lost to the nation forever.
Urgent Works to Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas
'There is no statutory obligation upon the owner of a listed building to keep their property in a good state of repair, although it is usually in their interest to do so. However, local authorities can take action to secure the repair of a listed building when concerned about its continued conservation.'
Stopping the Rot
'Hundreds of historic buildings are standing empty and being allowed to decay. Prompt action by local people can not only prevent ultimate demolition, but also save thousands of pounds in repair costs.'
Compulsory Acquisition of Listed Buildings
Local authorities, the Secretary of State and English Heritage (in Greater London) have powers to compulsory acquire a listed building if necessary for its long-term preservation.
It will take a brave decision by a local council to pursue this course of action, as the burden of repairs can all too soon fall to the taxpayer. However, as can be seen from the articles below, some councils do feel passionate enough to take the bold and necessary actions to save these heritage properties at risk.
Compulsory purchase of Denbigh hospital given the green light
'Move will not cost the taxpayer but question marks remain over the intentions for the building.'
Council seeks Denbigh's North Wales Hospital repair costs
'Action to try and recoup the cost of repairing a derelict former hospital is being continued by Denbighshire council.'
Urgent Works for Nocton Hall
If an Urgent Works or Urgent Repairs Notice were to be served by North Kesteven District Council on Leda Properties, it would provide a basis for progressing to a compulsory purchase order for Nocton Hall and perhaps the old RAF Hospital site too.
With the demand for building homes at an all time high and developers beginning construction again, the old RAF Hospital site could then be used as an enabling development to fund the necessary work to stabilise Nocton Hall once and for all.
Surely if there was any time to progress down this route, it is now?
The focus is now on North Kesteven District Council - the feasibility study and Options Appraisal have been completed, there has been close liaison with English Heritage, all the necessary legislation is available to take the next bold step - so 'the ball is in your court' as the saying goes!
Council Tax for 2014/15
I see our District Councillors voted for an increase in Council Tax last night of 1.93% for 2014/15. This amounts to just £2.70 per year for a Band D property. How much extra would it be to incorporate a contingency for protecting Nocton Hall I wonder?
With a predicted shortfall of £1.6 million for the 2015/16 council budget, I suspect we won't see this matter progressed any time soon.