Foundations 4

Now only two months after Babergh District Council was compaction piling with a 3/4-ton compaction hammer, around the foundations of the East gable of this mill, we received this letter dated 27th November1996. (below)

Clearly as we have photographs and records of cracks around the mill opening up, while Babergh District Council was carrying out compaction piling around the mill. Now Babergh District Council have formally written to us, and asked us what we are planning to do to remedy the problem.                                                            A problem that they have clearly caused.

The Secretary of State has stated in the Section 54 appeal and reports that the Quality of the building works are, I Quote:- “Irrelevant” & “the standard of the work carried was reasonable” !!!!!!!!   What do you think ?

We formally warned Babergh District Council what could happen in a letter 20th June 1996, reply 28th June 1996, Before Work Started, if you use compaction piling around this important listed building.

Structural engineers for Babergh District Council, Brian Morton of The Morton Partnership of Halesworth & Bethnal Green, London, Clearly state in their letter dated 9th May 1997, I quote: - “Now the scaffolding should be retained, if the scaffolding is removed the brickwork against the corner of the gable will almost certainly collapse”.

Now this West Gable end was almost certainly not in a dangerous condition before Babergh District Council carried out these works, as if it had have been, building works in this area would have been included in the Section 54 (5) legal notice dated 22nd May 1996.

Now Babergh District Council have admitted there has been structural damage caused to the mill, on the West gable, between 30th May 1996 and 27th November 1996. So much so that a neighbour saw this movement with his eyes, and he was so concerned with what he saw, that he was compelled to write a letter to Babergh District Council over his concerns!

This movement of the building has been checked, and confirmed by Babergh District Council’s advisers, Brian Morton of the Morton Partnership structural engineer, and now if the scaffolding is removed the corner of the gable will most certainly collapse. Report 9.5.1997.

All this damage has been caused to the mill, even though this entire West gable end is supposed to be tied together with structural scaffolding to stop it moving, done by Babergh District Council.

Now with structural scaffolding supporting the damaged building from 21st May 1996, to 11th June 1997, done under earlier legal notices dated 21st May 1996 and 22nd May 1996. The building on the 11th June 1997 was (1) wind and weather proof (2) safe from collapse (3) action had been taken to prevent vandalism or theft.

On the 12th June 1997, we were sent another Section 54(5) of the Planning (listed buildings and Conservation areas) Act 1990. stating that,  following 7 days, the Council intend to execute works specified in the attached schedule, which was to provide temporary support by way of scaffolding, the whole height of the building, to the Mill House gable or West gable, as is currently on site.

The legal notice dated 12th June 1997, does not ask us to carry out the works, tell us to carry out the works, give us listed building consent to carry out the works, or give us National Rivers Authority consent to carry out the works eithier. Plus even if we had consents and authority to do the work, the West gable was already scaffolded from previous legal notices, and had not been removed.

Reference use of Section 54(5) planning Act 1990.

By law and guidance in PPG15 part 2 Paragraph 7.7 states that: Authorities will note that these powers are confined to Urgent works: in the Secretary of State’s view, their use should be restricted to emergency repairs to keep a building wind and weather proof, safe from collapse, or action to prevent and vandalism or theft, and not involve an owner in great expense.

Clearly the building was not in danger of collapse before the notice was served, as it was already being supported by structural scaffolding, also none of the scaffolding has been altered, to what was put up under the legal notices 21st May 1996 and 22nd May 1996. As confirmed in the schedule of works of the Notice dated 12th June 1997, I Quote :-As is Currently On Site

The Secretary of State has stated in the Section 54 appeal and reports that the Quality of the building works are, I Quote:- “Irrelevant” & “the standard of the work carried was reasonable” !!!!!!!!   What do you think ?

On numerous occasions, since the work was carried out we have written to:

Richard Ward Senior Conservation Officer,

Neil Greig Head of Planning,

Delwyn Burbidge, Solicitor to the Council,

Patricia Barnes, Chief Executive,

at Babergh District Council, to ask for details of the works carried out at Sproughton Water Mill

We have asked for:

A. Copies of the contract drawings, specifications, documents, Etc.

B. Copies of the as built drawings, specifications, documents, Etc.

C. Details of the architect used, his qualifications, Etc.

D. Copies of Brian Morton, the structural engineers report on the completed works.

E. Copies of the warranties and guarantees insurance cover Etc, for the works carried out.

F. Copies of soil samples, and test bore results.

G. Copies of building control reports, site visits, concerns, Etc.

H. Copies of Van Elle’s report regarding foundation/piling depths, construction guarantees, Etc.

I. Copies of the completion certificate of works to the satisfaction of the structural engineers, the conservation officer, the architect, and Babergh district council.

J. Copies of English Heritage report with regards the works carried out, and the criticism made.

K. Copies of the report done by Richard Ward,Senior Conservation Officer at Babergh District Council regarding the works carried out.

L. Copies of the Listed building consent, needed for the changes made to the character and structure of the grade 2 Listed Building.

M. Copies of details about who made all the major decisions, regarding the changes to the mill.

N. Copies of the National Rivers Authority consent to carry out building works in a river.

To date, we have not received any clarification of the works carried out, as asked for.

But we have received three bills, for the 21st May 1996 emergency works, Total £21,358.58 plus interest

22nd May 1996 works, Total £56,046.70 plus interest, 

12th June 1997 scaffolding, Total £7,545.26 plus interest.

Which is a grand total of £84,950.54 + interest.

Which Babergh District Council says we have to pay before we can see any precise details of the works carried out.

By law we needed listed building consent, before we could carry out any works to a listed building which changes its character, from Babergh District Council.

We had outline planning consent purchased with the property, and submitted to Babergh District Council a full planning application to restore Sproughton Water Mill, on the 18th October 1995, This was only two months after purchasing the mill.

Babergh District Council served us with our first legal notice, Section 54(5) Planning Act 1990, on the 13th November 1995.

Second legal notice, section 78, Building Act 1984 Emergency Measure Notice, 21st May 1996.

Third legal notice, section 54 (5) Planning Act 1990, on the 22nd May 1996. They then subsequently carried out all this works straightaway. Babergh District Council completed all works approximately £80,000 of works, in September 1996.

On the 2nd September 1996, Babergh District Council gave us, full planning and listed building consent to legally start building works. Unfortunately during our planning & listed building application Babergh District Council have carried out, illegal and sub-standard work on the mill, which has changed its character forever, which will delay the restoration of the mill for years to come, or until they except responsibility for and put right the damage caused to the mill.

By law Babergh District Council have illegally carried out work to a listed building and changed its character all without  listed building consent.

Also the legal notices dated 22nd May 1996 and the 12th June 1997, under which the work was carried out, are illegal, because they were not urgently necessary by for the preservation of the listed building, the building had been made “safe from collapse” by the emergency measures notice dated 21st May 1996, so the building was not in danger. In guidelines set by the secretary of state in PPG15 Part 2, paragraph 7.7 use & scope of notices.


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