Persimmon fined for damaging historic hall

Grant Prior 10 years ago

Persimmon Homes North West has been fined for damaging medieval timbers during work to convert Staley Hall, Stalybridge, into townhouses and flats.

The Grade II listed hall dates back to the 16th century and was once home to the De Staveley family who were lords of the manor.

It was derelict for many years up to 2009 when Persimmon was given permission to proceed with the Cypress Oaks housing development which enabled the restoration of the hall to take place.

During this work, part of the building’s ancient timber core was destroyed even though it was rated as of immense historical significance by English Heritage and its loss was easily avoidable.

Persimmon Homes pleaded guilty at Tameside Magistrates’ Court last week to breaching a listed building condition and to damaging a listed building.

The firm was fined £10,000 for the first offence, £500 for the second, and a £120 victim surcharge was imposed.

The court also awarded the council £5,900 in costs.

In determining sentence, the bench took into account the fact that the building had been restored by Persimmon at significant cost and that the company had entered early guilty pleas.

Cllr Peter Robinson, executive member for land-use, said: “The fine is not intended to reflect the value of the lost 16th century timbers as they were irreplaceable. It is to punish the firm for its actions and omissions.

“We are happy with the sentence as there was no evidence that Persimmon achieved any significant financial gain by what it allowed to happen.”

Persimmon Homes North West managing director Neil Follows said: “Staley Hall is a grade II* listed building, which Persimmon restored in a careful, sympathetic and, overall, faithful way.

“Prior to commencing the restoration works, no more than the front façade of the building remained. In fact the building was on English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register for decades. The restoration costs totalled £5.5m and took several years to complete.

“Unfortunately, during the course of the restoration, a section of the timber frame was stolen from the site. The incident was reported to the Police who investigated the theft. The loss of some of the timbers ensured that they could not be used in accordance with the approved plans.

“Persimmon Homes deeply regrets the incident as the company was keenly aware of the importance of the original timbers, many of which have been reused within the hall’s restoration.

“The remaining pieces of the historic timber frame are now in safe storage and the company is in discussions with the local museum service regarding a new public display.

“Although important, this incident should be properly regarded in the overall context of the company having faithfully restored and preserved this listed building.”

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