‘We paid to fix your mess...now pay up!’

The property after the work
The property after the work

Council bosses have forked out £7,000 to renovate a derelict building in Boston town centre – and will now demand the owner foots the bill.

oston Borough Council had taken Sarah Holmes, owner of 35 Wormgate, to court for allowing it to fall into a poor state of repair but when she did not carry out the work required to tidy it up it stepped in and did it.

Wormgate property before works

Wormgate property before works

The council said it had had complaints about the untidy state of the property.

The Wormgate area forms part of a larger area that centres on the town’s Market Place where Boston Borough Council, in partnership with English Heritage, are offering grants of up to 90 per cent of the cost of restoring eligible historic buildings.

This property was identified as one being eligible for a grant and contact was made with the owner to try to encourage her to take up a grant to help with the refurbishment costs, but she failed to do so.

After negotiations failed, the council served a notice under powers granted by the Town and Country Planning Act. The notice required that works be carried out to improve the appearance of the property. The owner failed to comply with the requirements of the notice.

Holmes, of Fydell Crescent, Boston, did not attend the hearing at Boston Magistrates’ Court on December 17 and she was found guilty in her absence of failing to comply with the requirements of the notice served on her.

She was fined £400 plus a £40 victim surcharge and was ordered to pay the council’s costs of £448.05.

Coun Derek Richmond, portfolio holder for the town centre, said: “This case demonstrates that the council is serious about improving the appearance of buildings and pursuing property owners who think they can just ignore us and the court.

“Along with English Heritage we had done all within our power to help this property owner to help herself. Now, as well as a court appearance, a fine and costs she will have to repay the £7,000 it has cost the council to ensure the building is in good repair.”

Coun Richmond urged anyone else with a property in need of repair not to ignore the chance to get funding to help.

He added: “If you are an owner of an eligible property in a significant state of disrepair, don’t wait for the council to have to serve notice on you. Come and see if you can be eligible for a grant and restore the property. The reward for a small investment can be substantial, and can keep you out of court.”

Interested property owners should contact conservation project officer Liz Bates for advice about work which may be eligible for a grant and to discuss opportunities to improve the condition and quality of properties.

Contact her on 01205 314339 or email liz.bates@boston.gov.uk