LETTER: Council should take care of Spital Cemetery Chapel
I have long been of the opinion that private individuals should not get involved with buildings at risk. Chesterfield Borough Council should shoulder its legal obligations and maintain the Spital Cemetery Chapel in the manner to which it ought to be accustomed.
The Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas Act does not say anything about viability and the owner cannot plead poverty. No doubt the cemeteries and estates departments would be glad to offload this obligation onto someone else.
Any purchaser should obtain a copy of ‘Stopping The Rot’, the historic England textbook on the subject. It is available as a free download. The planning department could haul you up before the magistrates under Section 215 of the Town & Country Planning Act, which is a general power about untidiness. They could also issue a ‘repairs notice’. It would be worth asking for a notice to be issued to avoid problems later. These are not costed but usually demand that all possible repairs are carried out forthwith at the owner’s expense. In practice no grants are available for Grade-II listed buildings. If the building is to be converted to residential use there are difficult building regulations about thermal insulation to contend with.
From what I see on television, finance will be difficult. If you have £400,000 cash available you should be alright. A mortgage could be obtained after restoration. There is a very similar building called Belper Congregational Church. Eventually, this was repaired using public funds called the Historic Economic Regeneration Scheme, which is no longer available. Someone worked out that the building had no value as it stood because of the
legal obligation to maintain it. I think this applies also at Spital and the market value is actually negative, not £75,000. Don’t touch it with a bargepole.