Council orders owner to repair dilapidated listed building in Dunstable

Report by Central Bedfordshire Council

The owner of a listed building that has become an infamous local eyesore has been ordered to renovate it*. Central Bedfordshire Council told the owner of number 4, High Street South in Dunstable, which is the site of the former PizzaRoma store, that they must repair the building within months.

The listed building dates back to the 1600s and is in the Dunstable Conservation Area, but it has become derelict and dilapidated.

Councillor Kevin Collins, Executive Member for Planning and Regeneration at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “Our officers have tried to persuade the owner to carry out the much-needed repairs, but they have failed to do so. The building’s poor condition is affecting it as a historically-important building, as well as impacting on the appearance of the surrounding area.

“An enforcement notice has therefore been served. This requires the owner to carry out a list of 19 things to improve the condition of the building, including painting it, filling in cracks in the building and repairing rotten woodwork. Our actions will help preserve this important and prominent listed building for the future, and ensure that its visual appearance is not a blight on the neighbourhood.

“This case shows that we will use formal legal powers when necessary to ensure that the owners of buildings take responsibility for their property and keep them in good condition for the community.

"We stepped in because it’s important that the town is kept presentable to ensure that people to want to visit or live here, and for businesses to want to be located here. That’s why last year we gave £125,599 worth of grants to independent shops and businesses in the town, as part of our area-wide £1million High Street Improvement Scheme."

The owner has to make some of the repairs within one month, with up to four months to do the more major renovations. The owner is based in the West Midlands. It is a criminal offence to fail to comply with the requirements of the notice.

*Central Bedfordshire Council issued a Notice under Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, sometimes called an amenity notice, to the owner. This allows the council to act if the condition of land or buildings is having a harmful effect on the area, to ensure that steps are undertaken by the owner to remedy its condition.

*The notice requires:

Note: Building assessment has been made from external view and references below to ‘left-hand side’, ‘right-hand side’ are based on external viewpoints facing the building.
High Street frontage (Northeast and Southeast facing elevations)
Shopfront (Northeast facing elevation)
1.   Remove redundant fascia signage (advertising ‘Pizza Roma’) and associated light
2.   Repaint fascia and supporting poles white.
3.   Shopfront framing – remove loose and badly fitted elements of frame boxing at the left-hand side of the shopfront window – re-box/reform the left-hand side of the shopfront frame in timber, closing the current gap through to the shop interior.  
4.   Repaint the complete shopfront frame, including entrance door, in a grey paint to match the existing colour.
5.   Replace any current chipboard shop window-boarding with neatly fitting plywood, painted white
6.   Clean the ceramic tiles of the shopfront

Above shopfront
Note: the southeast elevation overlooks the flat roof of the Ladbrokes shopfront).

7.   Remove all satellite dishes.
8.   Remove all redundant wiring (northeast and southeast facing elevations).
9.   Fix to building any remaining wiring.
10.   Trim-back to parapet gutter level the front timber plank strap on the southeast elevation which currently projects above the parapet gutter.
11.   Fill all render cracks in the northeast and southeast facing elevations with a non-cement exterior filler, not sealant. Redecorate, after necessary preparation, with an exterior paint to match the existing wall paint in colour, including all timber plank ‘strapping’ supports which have been applied to the building exterior, associated bolt heads and pattress plates, and retained and clip- fixed wiring.
12.   Paint black, or replace completely, the badly scuffed rainwater hopper head and associated downpipe at the right-hand side of building. 
13.   Projecting (first floor) window and gable apex window – remove current window boarding, repaint window frames in white paint. Replace any current chipboard window-boarding with white painted plywood to fit.
4 High St South - Ashton Square frontage (rear of building)
Rear shopfront
14.   Remove current window boarding, repaint window frames in white paint. Replace any current chipboard window-boarding, and also the current door boarding, with neatly-fitting plywood, painted white.
15.   Temporarily remove Town Council fascia board installation. Redecorate the shopfront fascia with white paint. Reinstall the Town Council fascia board installation.
16.   Renew the decayed shop windowsill in timber to match. Decorate in white paint.
Above shopfront
17.   Repaint with white paint the fascia boards of the flat-roofed rear extension
18.   Boarded window openings – Replace any current chipboard window-boarding with neatly-fitting plywood, painted white.
19.   Repaint timber window sills in white paint.

Central Bedfordshire Council