A father has been fined £70,000 and accused of ‘reckless vandalism’ after he demolished a stairwell and cheese room at his Grade II-listed mansion home.
Property developer Laurence Daw, 32, was criticised by Cheshire East Council officials for the renovations he made to Aston Park House in Cheshire, which is so old it was listed in the Domesday Book.
He spent £480,000 renovating the historic house, which he bought in a derelict state for £320,000 in 2016.
As well as the fines, Mr Daw must carry out 250 hours of community service.
Aston Park House in Cheshire is so old it was listed in the Domesday Book. Property developer Laurence Daw, 32, has been fined for the alterations he made to the Grade II-listed mansion
The property is described in records as a Queen Anne country house.
Mr Daw slammed the council after he was taken to court, claiming that there was no proof he had ‘willfully caused reckless damage to the house’.
According to the Manchester Evening News, he said: ‘I would warn anybody thinking of buying a listed property not to bother.’
Cheshire East Council listed Mr Daw’s offences as the unauthorised demolition of a two-storey historic cheese room and tradesman’s entrance, the removal of sash windows, gable coping stones, guttering and lime mortar pointing.
He was also accused of removing part of a staircase, floor tiles, door frames, window linings and architraves were also removed along with ceilings and soffits and an external boundary wall, while insulation spray foam was used on the fabric of the building, according to the council.
Ainsley Arnold, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration, said: ‘Mr Daw’s actions with this property amounted to reckless vandalism and I want to thank the council officers, who have worked with Historic England and other experts, for their diligence and commitment in bringing this case to court and achieving this result.’
The legal issues started when Mr Daw installed double glazed windows and Cheshire East Council listed other offences like the unauthorised demolition of a two-storey historic cheese room and tradesman’s entrance
Charles Smith, Historic England’s north-west principal adviser for heritage at risk, said: ‘Our built heritage makes a positive cultural, social and environment contribution to the nation. It is, however, a fragile resource.
‘We will continue to work closely with Cheshire East Council to rectify as much of the damage as possible. We hope that this sad episode will remind other owners of the need to treat listed buildings with respect and care.’
Meanwhile, Mr Daw expressed his dismay at the whole situation: ‘At no point during the course of the proceedings was there any suggestion or indeed finding by the court of any wilful intent on my part to cause reckless damage.’
While he accepts that some of the work on the house, carried out by third party contractors, was ‘incorrect’, he maintains that he had obtained appropriate consent at each stage.
Historic England will now work closely with Cheshire East Council ‘to rectify as much of the damage as possible’
He slammed the council for its ‘heavy handed’ approach to the case and claimed that Aston Park House was derelict and in a ‘perilous state of disrepair’ when he bought it.
From Kent, Mr Daw said that he moved his family from London for a better life and only wants the best for them.
He added: ‘My intention was never anything else but to create a safe and secure family home whilst undertaking to incur significant financial resources to restore a derelict and crumbling property.
‘Whilst I fully respect the role that Council planning officers undertake, what I have had to endure has been deeply unpleasant, a waste of taxpayer resources and entirely unnecessary.’
Mr Daw pleaded guilty to 15 offences under the 1990 Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act and three offences under the 1984 Building Act.
He runs a string of property companies, mostly registered to an address in Kent, but gave addresses in Knutsford and Burnley to the court and was previously living in a mobile home at Aston Park House.