Row over 'missing' Essex barn

A ROW has erupted over a long-running saga concerning a listed building which has ended with the "disappearance" of a barn.West Mersea town councillor Stephen Vince is angry with Colchester Borough Council because of the way he says it dealt with the development of Grade II listed Brierley Hall Farm barn on the island.

A ROW has erupted over a long-running saga concerning a listed building which has ended with the "disappearance" of a barn.

West Mersea town councillor Stephen Vince is angry with Colchester Borough Council because of the way he says it dealt with the development of Grade II listed Brierley Hall Farm barn on the island.

However, last nightthe council insisted it had dealt fairly with Mr Vince and the matter was now in the hands of the Government.

About four years ago a developer was given planning permission to build four houses on the site of the barn and to renovate the barn itself.


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But two years ago, weeks after the barn was officially listed, it fell down during a storm. Months later the ruins caught fire.

Mr Vince last month noticed the remains had disappeared from the East Road site and he is annoyed about Colchester Borough Council's actions.

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He went to the local government ombudsman after the council gave planning permission to knock down a listed kitchen garden wall on the site. At first the council did not realise the wall was listed, gave consent and then revoked it. The developer applied for permission to demolish it twice more and the council agreed on the third attempt. The ombudsman found Colchester guilty of maladministration.

Mr Vince, a timber framed building expert, was unhappy about the council's assessment of the barn, given during the listing process, in which it was described as "much altered".

He disputed this and wrote to the council asking them about their decision.

After several letters and no replies, he turned to the ombudsman again, who agreed the council should respond.

He said the council then sent him £100 compensation but still no answers. Mr Vince sent it back because he was unhappy about receiving money because he is a town councillor.

This month he said he still has received no replies and is asking what has happened to the remains of the barn.

Mr Vince said: "My complaint is with the borough, not with the developer at all. I'm concerned for the future of our listed buildings. They may be safe in Colchester town centre, but out in the fringes I fear for our listed buildings.

"I've been totally ignored and I was representing West Mersea Town Council at the town hall."

Nicola George, Colchester Borough Council's head of planning and protection, said when Mr Vince reported the council to the ombudsmen a second time the council was cleared of maladministration. It also obeyed the order to respond to Mr Vince, she added, and to date there was just one reply to him outstanding.

"As to the future of the barn, it is very much out of our hands because an application by the developers for it to be delisted is currently with the Government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Until this has been dealt with we can take no further action.

"If it remains listed we might have to get it re-erected but if it is delisted it will be lost from the register. Mr Vince is emotionally attached to this building and the loss of a building like this is not something we are pleased about or even condone but we have to recognise where we are now."

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