Sussex

Ex-planning boss Barby Dashwood-Morris in £75k house fine

Barby Dashwood-Morris's Grade II listed home
Image caption The changes to Barby Dashwood-Morris's home have been described as "historic vandalism"

A former council planning boss has been fined £75,000 for making illegal and irreversible changes to her Grade II-listed home.

Barby Dashwood-Morris admitted renovating the 600-year-old property while chairman of Wealden District Council's planning committee.

Brighton Magistrates Court heard the work was a "substantial erosion" of history.

Her former partner and co-defendant, Alan Proudfoot, was also fined £48,000.

The changes to her Hellingly house, which included knocking down a wall and installing windows, were discovered when she tried to sell it.

District judge Teresa Szagun said she "intentionally disregarded the requirement for consent - focussing on [her] own needs".

Image copyright Wealden District Council
Image caption The defendant made changes to her home while chair of the council's planning committee

Dashwood-Morris had earlier admitted six counts of breaching planning law, while Proudfoot pleaded guilty to four charges of breaching planning regulations.

Mitigating, Stephen Whale told magistrates: "There was certainly no intention to commit offences and neither were they reckless."

In a statement Dashwood-Morris told the court the pair "strongly believed at the time" the works did "not require authorisation."

Image caption The 600-year-old home is Grade II-listed

Michael Sanders, of the Hailsham Historical and Natural History Society, described the changes as "historic vandalism".

He added: "We can't have people going around changing things whenever they like. It is very alarming."

The interior was filmed for Channel 4 show Double Your House for Half the Money, but it was never aired.

Kelvin Williams, the council's head of planning, said: "Owners of historic properties should be aware of their responsibilities to the property and future generations."

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