BREAKING: Former planning chairman fined £75,000 for making alterations to her Listed Hellingly home

Barby Dashwood-Morris' house, The Old Priest's House in Hellingly, East Sussex. SUS-170305-174534001
Barby Dashwood-Morris' house, The Old Priest's House in Hellingly, East Sussex. SUS-170305-174534001

A councillor – and former head of Wealden’s planning committee – has been fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £40,000 costs for making ‘irreversible changes’ to her historic Hellingly home.

Barby Dashwood-Morris, of The Priest House, Church Lane, Hellingly, was prosecuted by her own council and pleaded guilty to six charges of causing works to be executed, for the alteration of the Grade II listed building, without obtaining the proper consent from the council.

Barby Dashwood-Morris SUS-170305-174556001

Barby Dashwood-Morris SUS-170305-174556001

She had served as chairman of Wealden District Council’s Planning Committee South from 2011 until 2013.

Cllr Dashwood-Morris had also spoken about the changes she had made on Sarah Beeney’s Channel 4 show Double Your House for Half the Money as a good example of how to design and renovate an old property.

Today (Wednesday, April 3) the District Judge at Brighton Magistrates Court fined Cllr Dashwood-Morris £75,000 and ordered her to pay £40,000 towards the council’s costs, said a council spokesperson.

Fellow home-owner Alan Proudfoot, of Goult in France, pleaded guilty to four charges of making alterations to a listed building. He was fined £48,000 and was also ordered to pay £40,000 costs, added the council.

The changes to the 14th century building included the creation of a full height entrance hall through removal of ceilings and partitions, affecting the area for where there is anecdotal evidence for a priest hole; glazing of a partition; and removal of the barley twist bannisters and associated bannister rail to the staircase and replacing them with glazed panels.

Kelvin Williams, Wealden’s District Council’s Head of Planning and Environmental Services, said, “The changes to this important listed building came to light when the owners attempted to sell the property.

“Owners of historic properties should be aware of their responsibilities to the property and future generations. We will take action when necessary to protect the important heritage of our District.”

Owners of listed buildings should seek the advice of the Council’s Planning Department before carrying out building or renovation work of any kind to a listed building.

See the Listed Building information pages on the Council’s website for further information: www.wealden.gov.uk.