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Please feel free to email us with your Comments and Views on Sproughton Water Mill.  We will add our own replies to your emails and publish them below to give EVERYONE a chance to say what they think about works carried out at Sproughton Water Mill.

Dear Sir,

All I have to say on the matter of this beautiful building , is you must fight the Council for all your worth.

These bureaucrats know nothing about conservation, all they see £.s. p.

Please accept my best wishes for Christmas and victory in the New Year.



I have posted the following comment at

The story about Babergh DC in issue 1068 'Private Eye' and the contents of are enormously worrying. Whilst always cautious about one-sided stories, the allegations that Babergh DC employs staff that have lied about their qualifications and who abuse their powers in the manner alleged requires a clear answer.

Public accountability & transparency requires nothing less than a clear
exposition of the facts of the case.

I read your story with probably the same outrage you feel and can only wish you every success. It is worrying when our heritage is in the hands of such incompetence, but sadly we see it only too often.

I have spent the last twenty five years in practice saving historic buildings, castles,manors, mills, even lost villages. Quite often these buildings are almost beyond repair. In all these years I have never had a building sectioned for repairs, sometimes this has surprised me, but it is a fact and fire damaged crumbling wrecks in many cases.

I am amazed at reading that EH approved the repairs and I can only comment that it was not an officer with whom we would have dealt, for they are in our experience sticklers for detail and quality. Truly it would seem you have experienced a rare gathering of officials and the words left foot, right foot and not knowing come to mind. Once again good luck and I shall watch this space.

John Cooper  Architect


Dear Mr Jones,
Your case is quite incredible,but at the same time I can believe it is true.
As someone else has commented you have been presented with a fait accomplis
which a lot of people would describe as vandalism.It is a pity that the
"authorities" are closing ranks and are not being held responsible for their
I am sure if you had arranged the work to be done in such a manner you would
have been prosecuted by now.
Good luck with your fight.

Graham Negus

If Santa cannot bring any sense to all this; at least he might nominate this web-site as a better way of stirring a Christmas Puddings (Bureaucracies) than using wooden spoons.

Ben Tindall  Architects

I have read your story with interest. I find it incredible that you could be treated so badly by a public authority. The work is indeed unacceptable, and the smoke screen from the local authority is scandalous.

I can only begin to imagine how frustrating this must be for you. Keep up the fight, you have a duty to prevent others suffering the same fate. This local authority must be braught to account. Believe that justice will prevail as a result of your hard work. There are many people on your side, you are not alone.

Best wishes,

Bristol UK


The most talked about listed building in the UK

Being based in York as a Property developer dealing with Listed buildings comes  with the territory.

Regrettably the response you receive to proposals is entirely in the hands of the competence of the particular Conservation officer. As in all walks of life there are some good and some bad! I have first hand experience of Conservation Officers refusing to allow removal of structurally unsound timbers to facilitate a repair and seemingly preferring the building to rot and be unused rather than be protected.

On the other hand there are officers who take a very pragmatic approach. It all seems to boil down as to whether they are just doing a job (generally badly paid and therefore young and inexperienced) or doing it for the love of it.

Having carefully read the site whoever is right or wrong the standard of the workmanship is appalling and I can assure you that if I had done this in York I would have the enforcement officer on my back immediately. I cannot actually believe English Heritage visited the site. It would not be the first time they said they had, but actually had not. Do they have formal records of their visit? They should have.

Regrettably Councils are faceless and a law unto themselves. The buck will never stop with anyone and it will be very difficult to get redress. It's a shame they make life difficult when in the majority of cases Developers want to improve things

However best of luck from a fellow battle hardened developer.

I will continue to follow the case with interest

A very interesting site that should be of great concern to all people responsible for listed buildings.

This is not the first case, and will not be the last case, of English Heritage and Local Authorities really fouling things up and patting eachother on the back saying how well they have done.

To be honest I would have thought that questions should be asked in Parliament.

Arnold E Tarling BSc FRICS MCIArb

BETA Litigation Surveyors


It is always difficult to pass comment at a distance and without having seen the building at first hand but even from the photographs posted on your web site it is clear that:

 the quality of workmanship is so grossly inadequate that it is simply beyond belief that it could have been carried out by a District Council employing a "Senior" Conservation Officer and with the agreement of an English Heritage Inspector.

If there is any justice in this world (unlikely) Babergh District Council should be required to pay the full cost of the necessary remedial work however much that may prove to be. The responsible Council Officers should be personally surcharged in order to avoid the expenditure of further public funds.

Roderick I K Ogilvy RIBA IHBC


I suspect that if you carried out work to their standard the council would be of a very different opinion as to the quality of the work. An excellent web site - keep the spotlight on the council - they never like their decisions to be too public. I hope you succeed. I hope you stay sane!

Greg Cormack


We have read your web site with interest - we have had nothing but trouble from babergh district council since we bought our council house in 1993. They supplied a note of expected works over a five year period and none were stated. within 3 years they notified of us works to be done to the sewer they owned and into which our property drains. the case went to the ombudsman as we were able to prove that they knew that a/ we had no easements at the time of purchase and b/ they knew they were going to have to repair the sewer and we would have to pay. we lost the case on the grounds that although the council knew that work had to be done at the time we bought the house, they didn't know what they were going to do - and therefore couldn't tell us!!!! cost to us - just under £1000. i could go on but as we have taken them to the ombudsman over a second case and are awaiting a decision, we can only wish you the best of luck with your case. we found as you have - they never admit they are anything but right, don't answer questions if they don't feel like it, especially if pertinent to the case in question. they have no accountability - we asked for a breakdown of the £1000 - not forthcoming - they don't have to. they could have plucked the figure out the air for all we know. we just had to pay. BEST OF LUCK


The most talked about listed building in the UK

Thank you for your email and for drawing my attention to the problems experienced with this listed building.

The details provided are inexcusable but from my experience I can confirm that they are not unusual.

Keep up the good work


Barrie Vincent FRICS FBEng


Dear Mr Jones

After browsing your website it is clear to see that B.D.C has totally ruined Sproughton Mill. The standard of work is that, as a Babergh District Council tenant, you would come to expect to be the 'norm' for their tenant property repair and maintenance, but a listed building for gods sake.

The photo's speak volumes, how could they do this to such an important building???

Good Luck

Matthew Mitchell.

I have spent two hours finding my way around your web page and wish to congratulate you on a thorough piece of work. Like others who have written I would like to hear the other side of the story.

I remember the days when Sproughton Mill was a working flour mill and when horses used to drink on that side of the river. Horses and/or lorries used to go along in front of Mill house to receive the bags of flour. I am puzzled that you could not have had access to the Mill for a longer period than two years.

Good luck with your enormous fight.


Speaking as someone who has lovingly restored a grade 2 listed farmhouse I have much sympathy with your plight.

I was very sorry to hear that you have now been declared bankrupt over this matter

It is very obvious from your webbsite that you are knowledgable on restoration matters and your case highlights several serious blunders on the part of Babergh district council.

In my view you presented an excellent case against both Babergh and English Heritage and the content of this story should be of great interest to all who have a dream of rescueing an historic building.

My advice is to contact the media, got the tv crews down to the mill, and make these people accountable for their actions. good luck

Mike W


Dear sir,

Having worked on listed buildings for over 30 years, out of choice, I am saddened by your tale. To find experienced tradesmen is very difficult and will become even more so as real apprenticeships are a thing of the past..

There are too many people dealing with old buildings without proper training. Wish you well in you your quest for a just outcome.

Yours sincerely,

Francis Guest Teddington


D B                                                                                                                                              
If he is working for the council as one of their employees in an advisory capacity, then the council should have its own indemnity policy to cover him, and its other employees
.  I doubt very much he would have its own policy unless he was working on the self-employed basis. I did wonder though, if his qualifications are not genuine, how safe is his job is anyway, as surely he is defrauding the council, claiming to be something he isn't?????.. Or do they know and they are all in this together ??????? Some sort of conspiracy ???? Seeing what they did to that Mill made me shudder and brought back memories of the House of Horrors on TV a few years back, Bodgeit, Reckit & Scarper and all that. It is very worrying though. I used to work in Sudbury in Suffolk and insure lots of those beautiful houses around there. To think that this madman could be let loose on them is a nightmare say the least. And this scenario is quite probably duplicated around the UK. You might just as well get the cast of Big Brother to do his job. I wish there was more we could do to stop it.


The most talked about listed building in the UK

Good luck with your cause, although I do feel slightly defeatist by thinking that they won't be brought to justice because of who they are. I have had first hand experience of being turned down by Babergh's planning department, by a planner that lived in Colchester!. It was for minor works on the side of the Grade 2 listed house where we used to live in Hadleigh High Street. Not only were we turned down, the woman in question preceded to go from room to room, un-invited, and tell us of other works we should be doing!...non of which, we found out afterwards were actually necessary.        That's Councils for you.



Sue the Bas.......ds, it's about time the little man stood up and said
enough is enough. Did the council give themselves the right advice? did they use a properly qualified architect? did they seek competitive tenders for the repair works from suitably experienced contractors and did their Planning Supervisor get a proper Risk Analysis and satisfy himself that thebuilder was "competent" if not sue him as well.       

Best of luck.
Tony Mealing Architect


What a dismal story. I do hope that you'll keep us posted on the Secretary of State's decision, and on what happens in future.

Looking at Section 54, there seems to be a strong presumption that although 'a local authority may execute any works' (my italics), the intent is that 'The works which may be executed under this section may consist of or include works for affording temporary support or shelter for the building.' My impression (but without knowing what condition the building was in when you bought it) is that the council went much further than was urgently necessary -- some temporary support would, surely, have done the trick.

It seems to me that one possible avenue to explore would be whether, if the mill was not in immediate danger, or if the works carried out went further than was called for by the word 'preservation', the council was itself justified in committing public funds to the project. This would presumably be a question for the District Auditor. If it could be shown that the repairs (or even not all the repairs?) were not necessary under Section 54 of the 1990 act, wouldn't the councillors themselves be liable for the costs incurred?

Good luck,

Justin Howes

As residents of lower street in Sproughton your website has made very interesting reading. One thing that can not be argued is that the restoration that has taken place is nothing short of criminal.

The saddest fact of all is that the mill still sits, sad and dying. I don't know what to think in general, i would need to hear both sides before making hasty judgements. there have been many rumours of the "owners of the mill" and it would be interesting if you could add a piece about yoursevles and history to your website and certainly your desires of use for the mill.

If everything shown on your website is true then it would seem you will eventually come out on top and the council will be made to pay. Unfortunately it will be the babergh district council's residents that will pay the costs to compensate you along with the "improvements"!! that took place. better use could be made of our council tax.

Sproughton is a village that in our experience the local community are very proud. A huge amount is arranged and the parish run facilities are very well utillised. what a shame the mill could not be a shining focal point rather than a sad sight of a once great building deteriorating.

kind regards

the snooks


None of us should be to surprise (unfortunate) by bad conservation officers, gone are the days when the building conservation profession could dabble away teaching only to its own. The growing grass-roots ‘rediscovery’ of traditional materials and methods, no doubt fuelled by the Internet, has put much of this previously fairly elitist knowledge into the hands of many owners of traditional and historical buildings as well. Many conservation officers are having to play ‘catch up’ with this situation. Conservation officers now have to face historic building owners who have the knowledge to Judge and expect highs level of competence and understanding from their planning authority. 10 years ago (and less) conservation officers probably only had to deal with a public largely ignorant of conservation methods and issues. Now there are members of the public who have higher standards of building conservation than the conservation officers themselves.