Herts Ad Comment: Why cutting corners is not advised

PUBLISHED: 14:00 01 October 2017

STOCK Generic office

STOCK Generic office

Archant

A tale of two cities this week, with the contrasting stories of a couple’s efforts to ensure their dream home project is perfectly in keeping with its environs, and the apparent vandalism inflicted by contractors on a 280-year-old Grade II listed building elsewhere in the city centre.

The Grand Designs home really needed to be seen to be believed, and it’s obviously a real labour of love, with an attention to detail that goes beyond the superficial.

The owners deserve recognition for their determination to create something truly remarkable, while also respecting the heritage and surroundings of the site.

Meanwhile, the Duchess of Marlborough almshouses in Hatfield Road, which admittedly were in need of renovation, were not so lucky.

The historic fabric of the building has apparently been covered in some sort of cement (pictured) with, it seems, little regard for listed buildings laws, which resulted in the council’s enforcement team stepping in to investigate.

Quite how this work was allowed to proceed beggars belief, and the trustees responsible for the building should surely have put the project out to tender before agreeing for it to proceed?

There are strict restrictions as to what work can be carried out on listed buildings, and slapping concrete over the walls is certainly not permitted.

Would it have not been advisable for the trustees to have used a company which specialises in working on historic properties, rather than going with the cheapest option and undoubtedly having to pay out more money in the long run?

Cutting corners to save a few quid rarely works out for the best, and in this case it’s proved disastrous.

This newspaper understands that one of the trustees is actually Cllr Brian Gibbard, a member of the council’s planning committee, who should certainly have known better when it comes to projects of this nature.

We can only hope that the work inflicted can be put right without any lasting damage to what is, after all, an important part of the city’s heritage, and that steps are also taken to ensure there will not be a repeat of this fiasco in the future.

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Recently we, as a family (minus two of the kids), visited The Lodge RSPB reserve in Sandy, Bedfordshire. I had never been before, which is perhaps amiss of me as a birdwatcher as it is the headquarters of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds or RSPB and only 45 minutes drive from home.

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