Sedgemoor District Council has this week successfully prosecuted the former owner of the semi-derelict ‘1 – 5 Classic Buildings’ at Penel Orlieu in Bridgwater, as a result of the condition of the building.
Following various failed attempts to secure a voluntary improvement in the condition of the building, the Council last year used statutory powers to serve a notice on the then owner requiring them to undertake specified remedial steps to improve the condition of the land within six months. These steps included replacing all the boarded up windows and doors appropriate to the character of the building; repairing the canopy and roof to make it sound and weatherproof, replacing gutters and downpipes; and the removal and replacement of perished render as well as a total repaint. The owner was given six months to comply with the steps specified in the notice.
On Monday 24th April 2017, the Council successfully secured a conviction in the Taunton Magistrates Court for failure to take the steps required by the notice. The former owner was fined and ordered to pay a victim surcharge as well as a contribution towards the Council’s costs of bringing the prosecution. The Council remains in discussions with the current owner to secure an improvement in the condition of the building.
Town Council welcomes intervention
Leader of Bridgwater Town Council and Westover ward councillor Brian Smedley said “We have been urging action by Sedgemoor for years now regarding this particular part of the town which many people will remember as a particularly attractive entry point into Bridgwater’s High street with a line of popular shops and at the hub of a cinema complex which included the Odeon and the Palace. For many years it was degraded and left to rot until it got into the dreadful state it is now. So we welcome this action taken and look forward to the next phase in the Penel Orlieu development which we have urged needs regeneration as a key and very visible starting point to our shopping area.”
A recent Town Centre walkabout by members, officers and the public noted that the Penel Orlieu area was largely dominated by the night time economy and a major initiative was needed to bring the area back into the public domain.
Sedgemoor’s Actions Explained
A spokesman for the Local Authority said “Sedgemoor District Council served this notice following concerns within the local community in relation to the dilapidation of the premises and the impact these premises present in this pivotal location at the entrance of the main High Street. Government guidance for serving the notice, which demands that a land owner complies with steps specified, states that pre-notice discussions can be an invaluable tool in terms of yielding positive results and is to be encouraged. The Council had made contact with the representative of the owner of the property before this step was taken but unfortunately, this did not resulted in progress on the site itself.”
The exact terms of the notice were
- Remove all boarded up windows (on all floors and elevations) and replace with fitted, new glazed windows of a style, appearance and materials appropriate to the character of the building (including using a glazing pattern to match the original windows).
2. Remove all boarded up doors (on all elevations) and replace with new doors of a style, appearance and materials appropriate to the character of the building.
3. Repair, make structurally sound and make good the ground floor canopy to the south-eastern elevation of the building (Penel Orlieu elevation). This shall be undertaken in an manner which is sympathetic to the character and appearance of the building and of the surrounding area.
4. Repair the roof structure of the building such that it is structurally sound and rain/weatherproof. This shall be undertaken in a manner which is sympathetic to the character and appearance of the building and of the surrounding area.
5. Remove all blocked and broken gutters and downpipes and replace with fitted new gutters and downpipes of a style, appearance and materials appropriate to the character of the building.
6. Remove all rubbish, litter and other detritus from the building and its surroundings.
7. Hack off all perished render from the building. Replace render so removed using suitable materials to match the existing render and finish.
8. Prior to repainting, clean and remove all graffiti from the building and prepare all render, removing in the process all flaking paint, so as to ensure all external render is in an appropriate condition for repainting.
9. Prior to repainting, clean and prepare all external joinery, removing in the process all flaking paint and replacing any rotten or perished joinery with replacement joinery which is an accurate replica of the original design in terms of pattern, detail and profile, so as to ensure that all external joinery is in an appropriate condition for repainting.
10. On completion of steps (7) and (8) above, repaint all render in the same colour to wholly match the existing colour of the Bridgwater Cinema Building with a minimum of two coats of exterior paint.
11. On completion of step (9) above, repaint all external joinery in the same colour to wholly match the existing colour of the Bridgwater Cinema Building with primer, undercoat and gloss.
12. Subsequently secure the building such that unauthorised entry/trespass cannot be gained.