A ROW over the demolition of a listed 400-year-old barn has left a community seething with anger.
Matt and Sue Marsden made drastic changes to the building at Moss Lane, Beeston Castle last year without seeking planning permission until 90% of the building had been destroyed.
Furious next-door neighbour and Beeston parish councillor Andrew Jones sent a dossier including photographs of Mr Marsden burning the timber framework to planning bosses.
He said it is a ‘travesty’ that the 400-year-old building has effectively been destroyed.
In a letter to planners, the parish council wrote: “The parish council becomes increasingly angry when applicants who should know better act in such a way.”.
Mr Marsden replaced the framework of the half-timbered Grade II barn and reclaimed the original brickwork and last month made a fresh application for the renovated building.
Cheshire Architects, working for Mr Marsden, claimed the barn had been in an “imminent state of collapse”.
But the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings said they were not convinced that demolition was the only option. And the city council’s own design and conservation officer Charles Meyer agreed.
In November he wrote there was no evidence that all reasonable efforts were made to sustain, repair and re-use the existing building.
He added: “This substantial and irreversible national loss makes it impossible to support this application.”
Mr Marsden said he believed what he did had been sanctioned by the Conservation Officer, that his repairs didn’t require Listed Building Consent and that he had been told the timber was beyond repair.
Mr Marsden was told by senior planning officer Nial Casselden that it was not possible to determine an entirely retrospective application for Listed Building Consent as “the listed building has been lost.”
Planning officer Brian Hughes says the original application will be resolved by the application for the rebuilt barn.
Mr Casselden said if that is refused, Mr Marsden may have to knock it down and rebuild the old building as it was.
Dr Andrew Jones, of neighbouring Brook Cottage, said: “Local residents are incensed by the demolition of a listed building in a conservation area and Chester City Council for refusing to prosecute the developer, Mr Marsden for this criminal offence.”
The application will go to the planning board later this month.