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Fines for unauthorised work on listed home

A Gosport man and his builder have been told to pay £3,650 each after unauthorised alterations were made to the man's historic home in Crescent Road, Alverstoke.

David Fortune, 66, owner of 6 Crescent Road, and builder David Bonage, 70, of Manor Way, Lee-on-the-Solent, were prosecuted by Gosport Borough Council after it discovered the work at the grade 2 listed Regency property.

The house is next to the well-known Crescent. It is part of a development believed to have been built by renowned local architect Thomas Ellis Owen in the early 19th century. The buildings were part of a scheme to create a fashionable resort similar to Bath, called Angleseyville, which was never completed.

At Portsmouth Crown Court this week, each man admitted an offence of causing alterations which would affect a listed building's character, without authorisation. Each was fined £1,500 and told to pay £2,000 in prosecution costs, plus a victim surcharge of £150.

The charges related to the blocking up of doorways in the attic storey, a first-floor bedroom and a first-floor bathroom, along with removal of the attic storey ceiling.

The court heard that in August 2017, a historic building expert working for the council visited the house to help assess a planning proposal. He saw a skip on the driveway and went in with the site foreman. After discovering that alterations were taking place, he alerted the council, which asked for work to be halted as there had been no application for listed building consent.

David Fortune told the council that he and his wife had acquired the house in February 2017. He said he now realised he should have contacted the planning department before going ahead with the work, but his understanding of listed building consent had been incorrect.

Passing sentence, His Honour Judge Hetherington said the unauthorised work had caused modest harm to the building, and the defendants' actions had been reckless rather than a flagrant disregard of planning law. But the prosecution had been properly brought by the council, he added.

Cllr Tony Jessop, Chairman of the council's Regulatory Board, said: "Crescent Road is one of the jewels in the crown of Gosport's heritage, and we must do all we can to protect and preserve its magnificent original buildings for posterity.

"We will not hesitate to take action when rules designed to protect our heritage are broken and harm is done to historic buildings.

"Anyone thinking of carrying out work on the interior or exterior of a listed building should talk to the council's planning team first."

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