A couple who run a prestige dealership must shell out nearly £60,000 after wrecking a grade II listed 16th-century mansion in Berkshire.
Leroy and Wendy Bangs, who are the director and secretary of Marlow Cars, which specialises in Bentleys, Porsches, Rolls-Royces, Aston Martins and Mercedes-Benzes, admitted breaching preservation orders relating to Old Gunsbrook House, Twyford Road, Waltham St Lawrence.
It started with a tip-off to Windsor and Maidenhead Council by a neighbour and led to a three-year case that culminated in them appearing this week at Reading Crown Court, pictured.
Leroy, 58, and Wendy, 61, had been accused by the council of executing a demolition, alteration or extension of a building that affected its listed character without obtaining approval.
Among the damage, according to press reports, the couple, who bought the five-bedroom property for nearly £3.5m in March 2017, ripped out wooden frames that were 500 years old and replaced them with Perspex windows.
In addition, at least one chimney stack was taken out from the dining room fireplace, openings for extra windows were created, 16th-century timbers were removed from a bathroom and bedroom to create a doorway that was wider, and the level of the roof was altered.
Each of the couple was fined £15,000 by Judge Sarah Campbell, who also told them they must pay £29,000 costs.
The judge was, however, reported as saying she didn’t think they acted maliciously to try to damage a historic property, instead wanting a dream family home.
‘There are no public benefits to the changes as they do not have access, therefore the public interest does not outweigh the changes,’ she said.
It is also believed that the couple have attempted to make good some of the alterations. However, Judge Campbell said a council inspection wasn’t possible for now because of Covid.
On Wednesday (Mar 3), after the case, Cllr David Coppinger, lead member for planning, said: ‘This was a blatant breach of planning rules that saw a grade II listed building altered without the owners paying attention to the proper process and I’m delighted with the outcome of the case.’
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