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Dead end for bid to improve homes which are 'a blight on Britain's longest row of medieval timber homes' in Strand Street in Sandwich

By Eleanor Perkins

A resident of one of Kent's most-prized medieval street has "reached a dead-end" after a two-year fight to spruce up two significant buildings which she thinks are a "blight on the town".

Jacqui Linning says homes at numbers 25 and 27 Strand Street in Sandwich are ruining the appearance of what is believed to be the longest block of medieval timber-framed houses still in use in England.

She has made regular but unsuccessful pleas to Sandwich Town Council and Dover District Council since February 2017, prompting her to write to the town's MP Craig Mackinlay.

Jacqui Linning with the letter she received from MP Craig Mackinlay
Jacqui Linning with the letter she received from MP Craig Mackinlay

But her attempts have failed and the Conservative politician, who is also chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on listed properties, said he is “wary of forcing owners to carry out works”.

Strand Street resident Mrs Linning has requested a Section 215 notice to spruce up the road, which would give the council the power to take steps to have the buildings cleaned up if it is deemed their condition adversely affects the area.

She says she is “disappointed and frustrated” by Mr Mackinlay's response and feels there is little more she can do.

She said: “What can a Section 215 be used for? What’s the point in stringing us along for two years?

“These homes are a blight on the town, the neighbours and property prices.

“Local authorities have the power to force owners of listed buildings to be responsible for their safekeeping for the benefit of the nation and future generations.

“If local authority powers are not sufficient then they should be strengthened.

“If potential cost is a disincentive then more money should be made available by central government to initiate enforcement and recovery of the cost involved. It is no use delegating power to those reluctant to use it.”

The run-down properties are in Strand Street, Sandwich, and make up part of what is thought to be the longest block of medieval timber-framed buildings still in use in England
The run-down properties are in Strand Street, Sandwich, and make up part of what is thought to be the longest block of medieval timber-framed buildings still in use in England

In his response to Mrs Linning, Mr Mackinlay wrote: “I agree with you entirely - it is great shame that some people allow their historic buildings to deteriorate as listed property owners are on the front line of protecting our nation’s heritage.

“However, I would be wary of forcing owners to carry out works.”

He explains it would be hard to define the standards by which someone should be held accountable and also that such changes could become “a significant and inflexible financial burden”.

He continued: “We must remember that many listed property owners are not the wealthy people that is widely believed.”

He said he continues to push for a lower rate of VAT and more lax and standardised regualtions for maintaining listed properties.

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