Guernsey Press

Owner of ‘worn-out Victorian house’ disputes listing status

THE owner of a ‘worn-out Victorian house’ is disputing whether it should even be listed, as he launches a battle against a compliance notice.

David Collas is in a dispute with planning over the listing of La Hougue Du Valle at North Side, Vale. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 32429434)

Planners imposed an interim compliance notice to stop work at La Hougue Du Valle – a property near the Bridge – at the end of July.

Its owner David Collas said he was now appealing this decision.

He said that planners had taken the words ‘whole building’ from the 1989 listing and used it for their 2016 definition.

‘The 1989 listing of the building describes only the outside of the building, and does not mention the interior,’ he said.

‘If they had intended to include the interior they would surely have said so – there is not a word.’

The listing on the planning website contains a 180-word description of the house, including details of the chimneys and railings but makes no mention of any interior features.

It also makes no reference at all as to why the house was initially chosen to be listed.

‘I can’t see why the house was listed in the first place,’ said Mr Collas.

‘The 2015 planning criteria uses the word “special” 58 times. There’s nothing special about this property at all.

‘Castle Cornet needs protecting, not this worn-out Victorian house.’

He said that another property nearby called Fairfield, built by another of his ancestors, was a property of similar age that was worth protecting.

‘That’s not seen the changes that this property has. I can understand why that would need protecting.’

He said that by his calculations there was one listed property for every 114 people in England, whereas in Guernsey it was one for every 42 – nearly three times as many.

The house, originally built in about 1870, has been in Mr Collas’s family for more than 100 years.

His grandfather bought it in 1920. It was then left to his uncle who bequeathed the house to him in 2014.

In 1960 the house was converted into three flats, and, some time before it was listed in 1989, most of the original windows were replaced with uPVC.

‘The house has been chopped up inside, and lots of the features come from whatever the 1980’s equivalent of B&Q was,’ he said.

Mr Collas said he was happy to restore the outside of the building, and had just spent £1,000 repairing and painting the iron railings and gate.

He said he would be keen to keep any period features inside that he could, and that as far as he was aware no one from planning came into the house during the original listing. Even though he had invited them to inspect the inside since the dispute arose, no one had been to the property.

‘What I really think is that the building should be knocked down and six houses built on the site,’ he said.

‘That what the island needs, but it’s not a battle I’m prepared to fight.’

A Planning Services spokesman said the building was listed both internally and externally.

‘Both the inside and the outside of the building were inspected prior to the compliance notice being served for unauthorised work.’