Guttered: Builder locked in row with council over repairs to historic pub
PUBLISHED: 09:45 15 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:45 15 February 2020
The boss of a building firm is in a battle with the council over repairs to the gutters of Norwich’s historic Micawber’s Tavern.
Stewart Wright, managing director of Norwich-based Tailored Construction is in a row with the city council after it asked him to change gutters he has just replaced on the front of the renowned pub in Pottergate.
Mr Wright, whose partner and her family own the listed building, recently spent thousands on improving the pub which closed in the summer and was in a bad state of repair.
Along with painting the building white and getting rid of the dark green gloss paint, he replaced some of the old gutters with new ones costing £1,600 after a problem with rain water pouring down one wall and exposing rotten woodwork beneath.
He states he was advised by the council to proceed using guttering with a 'foundry finish' meaning it has the appearance of iron, like the historic original, but is plastic beneath. He couldn't find a deepflow gutter in metal.
Mr Wright states the council said, as it was a repair, it would not need an application and was given the go ahead.
But later, when a different conservation officer visited the pub, he said the new guttering was not in keeping with the building and needed to be taken down and replaced with a metal alternative.
Not only is this going to cost him thousands to do again but it also means a delay for his new tenants who want to take over the pub for a new business venture.
Mr Wright said: "What really annoys me about their contention that the gutters are not in keeping is that on the other end of the building this same department has allowed someone to literally bolt on a 1970s block of flats.
"It annoys me that they are publicly funded and the lofty ideals of preservation and conservation of the city's listed buildings isn't their priority - all they're interested in is wrapping you up in red tape for eight weeks in getting you to submit an application to them.
"Their entire approach drives people away from dealing with them. We wanted to preserve the building and install new gutters that would be more than capable of coping with heavy storms. The scaffolding alone was nearly £4,000 and we spent £1,600 on guttering so this wasn't something cheap that we just slapped up."
After this newspaper discussed the issue with the city council, a spokesman said: "We have a responsibility to ensure that the architectural and historic interest of listed buildings are protected through the planning system. We are keen to see this business open soon to bring life to the building and vitality to the street, and we are working with Mr Wright to achieve this."