Ex-Reds boss in the dock over listed building work

Reporter:

Andrew Boyd

A PROMINENT businessman was ordered by a court to pay almost £4,000 in fines and costs after instructing building work to be performed on a listed building.

Former Wrexham FC co-owner Neville Dickens, 70, pleaded guilty to all three charges of failing to notify Wrexham Council of intended demolition work on the former Mines Rescue Centre last August.

Dickens, of Priory Lane, Gresford, appeared at Wrexham Magistrates Court on Thursday along with contractors Raymond Edward Haynes, 71, and Alan Newcombe, 36.

An application was made by CADW for listed building consent last August at a similar time as demolition work was carried out at Dickens’ instruction on the Maesgwyn Road premises.

Aled Rowlands, prosecuting for Wrexham Council, said the centre, which was used to train miners in how to rescue colleagues during major incidents, was regarded as being of historic interest and CADW began looking at it being listed in early 2009.

After Mr Dickens acquired the site, CADW contacted him on August 6, 2010, to advise him of its plans for the building to be listed.

But on August 18 Wrexham Council was made aware of work being performed at the site by Haynes and Newcombe.

The building became officially listed on the same day and discussions were held between council officials and contractors that indicated the work could not proceed.

But two days later further demolition work was seen being performed.

Mr Rowlands said significant damage has occurred and much of the building’s character has been lost.

David Manley, defending, told the court that safety issues were a factor in why work resumed on August 20 as parts of the building were now unsupported and needed to be pulled down.

Mr Manley said Dickens is doing all he can to put matters right relating to restoring the building but he believed precedents had been set by Wrexham Council that meant the demolition work could be performed.

He said the council backed plans in 2007 for demolition, which Dickens was following through as he believed he had lawful permission.

Mr Manley said “wires were crossed” between the men behind the demolition work and Wrexham Council, believing they had been given permission to proceed with the work and there had been confusion over the timings relating to the application.

Although CADW wrote to Dickens on August 6, the letter was not received until six days later when Dickens was preparing to go away on holiday.

“These are men of good character,” added Mr Manley.

“If you look back and study the chronology they got caught up in some rather unfortunate timing.”

Haynes, of Wrexham Road, Pentrebychan, and Newcombe, of Chester Road, Gresford, admitted two of the charges but pleaded not guilty to the other relating to executing the work on August 18. This third charge was later dropped.

Dickens was fined £1,500 for the most serious charge concerning executing the demolition work.

He was also fined £250 for each of the other two offences and was ordered to pay £1,700 costs and a £15 surcharge, resulting in a total cost of £3,715.

Newcombe, was fined a total of £300 and ordered to pay £200 costs and a £15 surcharge.

Haynes was fined £150 and ordered to pay £100 costs and a £15 surcharge.

Following the case, Lawrence Isted, head of community, wellbeing and development at Wrexham Council, said: “The council takes seriously its responsibilities to protect listed buildings and had no choice but to seek a prosecution in this case given the blatant act of demolition involved. 

“This is a reminder to anyone intending to undertake any works of demolition or alteration to seek advice and the necessary consents from the council’s planning and building control officers before doing so.”

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