Hundreds back petition for council to take legal action
HUNDREDS of people have signed a petition calling for urgent action on the burnt-out Bun Penny. The pub has been an eyesore on the seafront since it was destroyed in an arson attack in September 2011, and despite officials declaring it was “a priority”, no improvements have been made. The campaign was launched by business leader Nigel Hancock, from the Bay Independent Retail Group, who is demanding Canterbury City Council exercise its legal powers to force the owners to take action. He said:
“My aim is to get at least 1,000 signatures, and ideally more, so I can take it to councillors and say there is clearly a strong feeling about this. I have already spoken to some of our representatives who admit they are embarrassed that we seem no further on 28 months after the fire in having this hideous eyesore sorted out.”
“The guidance is clear — the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 provides a local planning authority with the power, in certain circumstances, to take steps requiring land (including buildings) to be cleaned up when its condition adversely affects the amenity of the area.”
The act allows councils to set out the action they want owners to take and set a time limit. They can also carry out the work themselves and recover the costs. Mr Hancock added:
“It is entirely appropriate for the situation vis-a-vis the Bun Penny. Statistics show that around 20 per cent of cases were resolved by the threat of a 215 notice being served, and 80 per cent of cases resolved once a 215 notice was served. The question has to be asked why Canterbury City Council has seemingly taken no action at all to have the Bun Penny situation resolved.”
But council spokesman Rob Davies said the powers granted under the act were always a “last resort”. He said:
“We know there is a dispute between the owner and insurer and are hoping this can be resolved, but we are now looking to progress this by approaching the owner to be clear about what their plans are. If this is unsuccessful we can then assess which powers to apply. In the meantime we have used our powers to ensure the site is secured. In such difficult financial times, we also have to be aware that we could spend a lot of council taxpayers’ money and not necessarily recover all or any of it.”
- Sign the petition at www.thebay.org.uk/bunpenny/ or download a paper copy from www.thebay.org.uk/bunpenny/petition.pdf Copies are also available in shops around the town until the end of February.
• September 2011: Just after a £50,000 refurbishment, an arson attack leaves the Bun Penny pub a blackened shell. Owners say they are devastated, and plan to rebuild.
• November 2011: Owners say they are waiting for a report from structural engineers on whether the pub can be rebuilt.
• February 2012: Former councillor Vince McMahan calls for officials to Issue a Section 215 notice to force the owners to deal with the derelict building. Council spokesman Rob Davies says they have written to the owners asking when improvements might be made, and they are keeping tabs” on the situation.
• May 2012: Council spokesman Rob Davies denies rumours officers were planning to force the owners to cordon off the side, and warns it may have to remain an eyesore until the insurance dispute is resolved.
• July 2012: Councillors say they want action on the burnt-out Bun Penny, and Ian Brown, head of planning and regeneration at the council, says
restoration of the locally listed building is a “priority”. He says officials are trying to find out the owners’ intentions.
• August 2012: Council officials say the Bun Penny is still a priority” and they are in talks with the owners.
• July 2013: Times reader Jim Stabler, frustrated with the lack of action, sends in a photo of the building for our Photo of the Week section, with a sarcastic message saying it was one of his favourite shots of “Herne Bay at its best”
• September 2013: Rumours the pub is up for sale intensify after town centre manager Chris West includes it in one of his regular reports to councillors.
• December 2013: Teenagers are spotted inside the derelict pub, prompting fears it is unsafe. Councillors say they are “horrified” at the state of the building, and council spokesman Celia Glynn-Williams said officials asked the owners to make sure it was secure. She said they wanted to work with the landowners “to come up with a scheme to bring the site back into use”.
Herne Bay Times, February 6th 2014