Your Comments 2

Suspicious as I normally am of unsolicited e-mails, I could see that yours

was different and looked at your site with interest.

I would be interested to know on what basis Babergh DC are threatening you.

Defamation of named officers?

(Under English law you can't defame a local authority.) Data Protection Act?

Seamus MacBride

Tim Chase.

After seeing Sproughton Mill featured on BBC Look East, I visited your website last night, and spent 2 hours reading about your predicament. Even then I only viewed half the site! I will continue this evening.

The more I read, the more astounded I became. At first I thought it was another case of heavy-handed council interference, but as I viewed more and more pages, I could see that the work they carried out was a complete bodge-up. And they had the cheek to send you the bills! Unbelievable.

I'm not a builder or an engineer, but even I can't figure out how the windows ended up out of line, and as you get closer to the building, the scale of the "appalling workmanship" becomes more apparent. But that's always been my view of councils, full of second-rate people, using second-rate workman to do a second-rate job, which often costs more in the end. They should stick to building toilets.

And I'm amazed at the response by English Heritage.

Councils are elected by the public to serve the public, but in cases like this they put up a screen and hide behind it. As you say, if you had carried out the work to that standard, the council would of been down on you like a ton of bricks (sorry!).

But if a council is legally responsible for carrying out urgent repairs to a listed building, then surely it should be specified in law that the work be done using traditional methods and materials relevant to that building?

Carrying out botched repairs is as bad leaving a building to fall to ruin. Neglect of historic buildings is sad in itself, especially considering the amount of Lottery money that's spent on less urgent projects.

I live at Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex, and there are 2 prime examples of neglect in my local area: Walton Hall, which is now virtually beyond repair after decades of neglect, and The Maltings at nearby Thorpe-le-Soken, which is being left to rot, most of the roof slates have now gone, so you can imagine what the weather has done to the inside of the building. And yet no-one does anything about it.

At least you were prepared to restore Sproughton Mill and give it a new lease of life. I know you've got a tough battle ahead with the council, but I'm sure you will prevail in the end.

Very best wishes

Richard Beatson

All the best with your fight... the website is brilliant!

Sue

This is terrible reading! Just imagine how you'd feel if this was happening to you.

It's hard to credit it really. I'll be interested to see the outcome of the secretary of state's review. It could be painted blacker than it is, but it sounds pretty black to me. My heart goes out to these people.

Steven Dunn Architect  - sdunnarch@aol.com
Lincoln - GB                                                                                                                              
I am sorry to see such a mess , but why was it necessary for the local authority to enforce the works in the first instance ? I am sure the answer in on the site, but havenít had time to look at the whole thing
Clearly the standard of the works is very poor : this cannot be a matter for debate !

Rupert                                                                                                             UK                                                                                                                 What a lot of crap you talk, I notice that you only put the comments on the guestbook which believe your ridiculous claims! You want to get your facts straight before you go printing such ludicrous statements, hopefully someone will make you remove this complete shite very soon before it pisses off anymore decent folk just trying to do their jobs.

SWM (In Reply)

Dear Rupert - Thank you for your email.  We have published ALL comments submitted through the guest book so far so I guess you are just in the minority! The 1000ís of comments that have been emailed direct are 90% in support of our site. They are also a great deal more polite than yourself when contacting us.

 Have you ever considered an anger management course?

WWW.SPROUGHTONWATERMILL.COM

The most talked about listed building in the UK

Dave Bradley

Dear Sirs                                                                                                                                     
I cannot believe the appalling state in which the District Council have left this building following alleged restoration work. It is quite clear from the "before" and "After" pictures that the workmanship is downright appalling and if such work had been carried out by a builder in my home he would not have been paid. It looks like a tin pot gipsy outfit ("got half a load of tarmac left over from a job guv") who would have difficulty building a decent garden wall have been used to carry out works which should more properly have been carried out by specialists in historic building conservation.

That English Heritage support the Council's action and the repairs which have ruined the building historically merely confirms that my decision not to renew my membership of EH two years ago was the right one. EH as a body have been responsible in my opinion for the ruination of more buildings than it has ever properly preserved/restored often creating out of character features in the historic buildings it is supposed to be protecting for the nation. I hope you will be successful in getting Babergh to put up its hand to substandard work carried out by substandard workmen with substandard supervision and substandard contractors and materials.

I regret that at the present time I am unable to offer any financial support to your fight but I wish you every success in taking this bunch of dictators to the limit of the legal process. I suspect that the ECHR would find in your favour if there is any justice in it since it is clear that your right to enjoyment of your property has been seriously compromised by the actions of the Council.

Mike.Swindells1@btopenworld.com

On the home page it says
See the Appalling Building Workmanship that Babergh District Council in
South Suffolk, have Carried Out to Our Grade 2 Listed Building.

but where do I click to see it? The webpage does not make it clear

SWM (In Reply)

Dear Mike

Thank you for your email. Take a look at the following pages:
www.sproughtonwatermill.com/html/roofing.html www.sproughtonwatermill.com/html/brickwork.html www.sproughtonwatermill.com/html/foundations.html

Hope this helps...

Paul Bussey, Chartered Architect, RIBA.
www.rhwl.co.uk
London uk                                                                                                                               
Our Technical Services team have read and noted the arguments laid out so clearly and if true and wholly substantiated are amazed at the poor quality of design, control and workmanship effected. Working in the Heritage Environment on many Grade 1 and 2 listed buildings we would be highly professionally embarrassed to achieve these results and with such an unacceptable heritage plan of work. We would fully endorse the comments of Gerard Lynch having worked with him on a number of heritage buildings where he has provided invaluable and practical advice on brickwork reinstatement of Heritage Buildings. Good Luck with your case.
 

Name N/A

I'm not sure quite how to take this site as it is a very one-sided view of the problem and does not provide the people on the other side of the case to put their arguments. I'd want details of the case for their side before fully making up my mind.

Saying that, the work undertaken does seem incredibly shoddy and I'd have my builders shot if they were not even able to line up windows on two faces of a building! As for the bricklaying and pointing - no comment needed!

As I understand it there are no actual qualifications required to be a Conservation Officer. Most however have some form of building conservation qualification and background. A council would be rather mad to employ one who didn't but it's not actually necessary.

The basic job description, I would think, is to enforce listed building legislation and planning law while following English Heritage guidelines where possible. This part is basically interpreting legal documents and guidelines and applying them to LBC applications and passing advice onto owners etc.

Fortunately many Conservation Officers also have a good understanding of historic buildings and conservation. These are the ones able to offer good advice and who are prepared to explore alternatives and so on. Those who seem less than helpful are problably just following the legislation and guidelines to the letter.

Sadly as with many public services it is salary considerations which mean that Conservation Officers are not as highly qualified as they should be. All of the experts in the area are probably employed in their own practices, act as consultants etc. where they can make much more than the humble civil servant. Until Conservation Officers are paid a salary consumate with having architectural, surveying qualifications etc. then there will always be a number just following the rules and guidelines without the background knowledge to support it.

WWW.SPROUGHTONWATERMILL.COM

The most talked about listed building in the UK

Holly,Maidenhead, Berks, GB I am appalled that English Heritage have approved the work done, particularly when they are soo pernickety about other projects I have been involved with. It is unfortunate that such a beautiful building has been abused in such an unsympathetic manner. Did the Local Authority have its rose tinted glasses on when it inspected the work? Clearly they did not know what to look out for, or any idea of the skill required when working with old buildings.
 

K P

Thank you for making me aware of the subject. Working for many years in the field of conservation we are more than aware of various 'politics' around.

It appears that it is somehow much more easy to play around with historic buildings than with anything else in the industry, as there is always a way out, if something goes wrong, saying that the building or structure was old and its response to 'conservation' could not be predicted.

So far from truth! Dealing with old buildings requires a lot of experience,  careful analysis and thinking. Then, the designer can predict and  'design' the end result. Nothing must be left to chance. Consequences of careless approach can lead to tragic loss of parts of our heritage and  awareness of this responsibility is very often missed out.

D. Buckright                                                                                                                            
Suffolk, GB                                                                                                                             
Keep it up. It's about time someone took them on
. A friend of mine has lost buyers over the last year because they (the council) have taken over a year to give planning permission on her barn for conversion. Her 14th century Grade 2 listed building might have been sold also by now but again, the council have in varying degrees, 'put potential buyers off'. Hope you get recompense and above all personal satisfaction when you win!

Dr & Mrs Gilbert                                                                                                                      
Colchester, Essex, GB                                                                                                           
A gruesome experience and outcome. Have no legal or construction knowledge, but common sense suggests something is terribly wrong, and that we are all accountable for our actions.

Tim Pitt                                                                                                                                      
www.lavenhampriory.co.uk                                                                                                
Lavenham, Suffolk, GB                                                                                                         
I'm saddened to hear of your conflict with Babergh District Council and obviously don't know all the facts, but for the sake of balance ask the question "Why didn't you do the work yourself'? I reside in the catchment area of Babergh DC and am fortunate to own a "Grade 1 listed" house which has been saved from demolition by ourselves and more significantly the previous owners. Having worked closely with Richard Ward I can only praise the way he carries out his duties in protecting the vast number of listed buildings in the district. I have always consulted Richard before starting any project and have always found his input and guidance helpful and useful even though we don't always agree. I'm sorry you cannot say the same. I think it is important to remember that with privilage goes responsibility, I am fortunate in owning Lavenham Priory. When I move I would want to leave my historic home in a better state of repair than when I arrived. If I couldn't afford to look after my "Grade 1 listed" historic building I would have sold it to someone who could. We have lost so many wonderful houses and buildings through neglect. Tim Pitt.

SWM (In Reply)Dear Mr Pitt                                                                                                                              
Thank you for your email. In answer to your question regarding the reason we did not carry out the work ourselves, could I ask you to visit the following page on our website where we have detailed all the facts regarding the purchase of Sproughton Water Mill and subsequent actions resulting from this. It is not as you suggest that we could not afford to look after the mill - simply that we have not been allowed to!

http://www.sproughtonwatermill.com/html/1988_to_1996.html

I hope this will answer your question. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you wish for anymore information.

Leonard (Nick)Woodhams RIBA                                                                                        
Brewood,Staffs UK                                                                                                                
Judging from the photos, the repairs do appear to be 'unfortunate' but it is sometimes too easy to criticise without having first hand knowledge. But it all looks a bit amateur.

David John                                                                                                                              
London GB                                                                                                                             
A section 54 Urgent Works Notice can be served by a local authority if it appears to them the works are urgently necessary for the preservation of a listed building in their area. They are quite within their rights to do this and to charge you for their costs. They would be failing in their duty if they allowed such buildings in their area to decay. Why was the building allowed to deteriorate? It appears you have owned the building for some years and that you have responsibilities for it. I would welcome your comments.

SWM (In Reply)Dear Mr John                                               &n