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Amersham pub demolition lands firm £1,500 fine
A PROPERTY developer demolished an Amersham pub before it was supposed to because it wasn't expecting to receive written permission from the council, a court heard.
The Red Lion in Chestnut Lane was torn down last July, days after it had been sold to development firm Clearview Homes.
Today the company pleaded guilty to an offence under the Building Act as they had not waited the statutory six weeks before carrying out the work.
But their legal representative Andrew Harman told Amersham magistrates the firm, based in Northwood, was not expecting to hear anything from Chiltern District Council and went ahead with the demolition work.
And he questioned the prosecution, which landed the company with a £1,500 fine, saying it was not in the public interest.
Mr Harman said: "The law requires them [Clearview] either to have a response from the council or to wait six weeks before they do anything. I'm afraid they are more used to working in London Boroughs, who simply do not respond to such notices and it is pointless calling up.
"Chiltern are not like that. The research is clear: Chiltern do respond.
"They apologise for not knowing Chiltern are better than others. There was nothing sinister intended."
Mr Harman said Clearview's culpability was low because the firm - which has an annual turnover of £15million - had actually served notice to demolish to the council.
The court heard when demolition work started on July 7 a concerned neighbour called the police. Officers returned two days later and workers were told no further demolition work was to be carried out - but the rest of the building was torn down on July 12.
Iftah Nawaz, prosecuting, told magistrates Chiltern District Council's building officer sent a letter to Clearview Homes and Wenman Demolition - who were subcontracted to carry out the work - to invite them for interviews regarding the demolition.
She said neither company attended but in an email Clearview director Stephen Murphy said he had sought legal advice and was prepared to answer questions in writing. A letter was sent but no response was received, Mrs Nawaz said.
In response Mr Harman said Clearview wanted to carry out the work as soon as possible to avoid having to contend with possible squatters, and because of concerns over rate payments.
He added demolition work was carried out on a Saturday so children at nearby Chestnut Lane School would not be affected by the noise.
Clearview Homes was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,410 to Chiltern District Council, which brought the prosecution, after admitting to contravening two sections of the 1984 Building Act.
A similar charge against Hampshire-based Wenman Demolition was withdrawn in court.
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