A Derbyshire couple and a joiner will appear at the crown court for sentencing after admitting making unauthorised alterations to a Peak District building that dates back to the 17th century.
Christopher and Sarah Gillott, of Hurds Hollow, Matlock, pleaded guilty at Chesterfield Magistrates Court to five charges relating to their former home, The Lodge - a Grade II listed building within the conservation area of Winster. Joiner Simon Mcloughlin, of Greenhill, Wirksworth, also admitted five charges.
They will be sentenced at Derby Crown Court on April 24, after being prosecuted by the Peak District National Park Authority.
Magistrates heard that, between September 2007 and December 2016, a cruck truss ‘of highly significant historic and architectural interest’ was removed from the attic of The Lodge and replaced with a modern A-Frame.
Oak ceiling beams and purlins, also likely to have dated from the 17th or early 18th centuries, were removed and replaced with ‘inappropriate, non-traditional, utilitarian’ alternatives, while floor and ceiling heights were altered.
The Peak District National Park Authority became aware of the changes in December 2016 when it received an enquiry, relating to windows and doors, from the current owner of The Lodge.
Nina Pindham, representing the Peak District National Park Authority, said Mr and Mrs Gillott would have known they needed listed building consent for alterations after previously being given permission for works and approval of a grant for roof repairs.
She told the court: “It is accepted that elements of the property required repair. There are, however, well-established conservation techniques.
“With a listed building, you cannot just do what you wish. You are a custodian of that building not just for this, but for subsequent, generations.”
John Wilford, representing Mr and Mrs Gillott and Mr Mcloughlin, accepted that historic value had been lost as a result of the alterations.
He said Mr and Mrs Gillott had bought The Lodge as a ‘project’ and had planned to convert it into bed and breakfast accommodation. He said expense had been a factor in the work carried out but conceded that the Peak District National Park Authority should have been consulted.
After the hearing, the Peak District National Park Authority’s director of conservation and planning, John Scott, said: “We have a statutory duty to preserve the special character and architecture of listed buildings. This case sends out a clear message that we will not tolerate reckless alterations of historic buildings.
“It is a criminal offence to carry out works – or to instruct others to carry out work – to alter a listed building in a way which harms its historic character.
“Historic buildings and their features are irreplaceable records of our history and, once lost, are gone forever.
“There’s a misconception that only the exterior of grade II listed buildings is protected. But internal features are often as important as the exterior in the historical stories they can tell.
“It’s important that people look after buildings and we want to help them to do that. If you are thinking of carrying out works to a listed building, come to see us – we are here to help. We will give advice free of charge.”