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Ex-chair of planning committee ordered to pay £115k for changes to listed building

A former chairman of a council planning committee has been ordered to pay £115,000 after she caused “irreversible changes” to a Grade 2 listed building.

Cllr Barby Dashwood-Morris, of the Priest House, Church Lane, Hellingly, pleaded guilty to six charges of causing works to be executed, for the alteration of the building, without obtaining the proper consent from Wealden District Council.

Alan Proudfoot, of Goult in France pleaded guilty to four charges of making alterations to a listed building.

The District Judge at Brighton Magistrates Court on 3 May fined Cllr Dashwood-Morris £75,000 and ordered her to pay £40,000 towards the council’s costs.

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Proudfoot was fined £48,000 and was also ordered to pay £40,000 costs.

The council said the changes to the Priest House, a 14th century building, included the creation of a full height entrance hall through removal of ceilings and partitions, affecting the area for where there was anecdotal evidence for a priest hole; glazing of a partition; and removal of the barley twist bannisters and associated bannister rail to the staircase and replacing them with glazed panels.

Kelvin Williams, Wealden’s Head of Planning and Environmental Services, said: “The changes to this important listed building came to light when the owners attempted to sell the property. Owners of historic properties should be aware of their responsibilities to the property and future generations. We will take action when necessary to protect the important heritage of our district.”

Cllr Dashwood-Morris was chairman of Wealden’s Planning Committee South from 2011 until 2013.

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