The owner of Grade II-listed Dunston Hall has applied for planning permission to change the use of the property so it can be used as a holiday let and wedding venue.
David Harrison who bought the hall in December last year, said he wanted to create a ‘baby Chatsworth’ by opening up the hall’s ‘stunning’ interior and grounds for the ‘community to enjoy’.
However, Chesterfield Civic Society says Mr Harrison is making ‘retrospective applications seeking permission for actions which he has already taken’.
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In a letter to Chesterfield Borough Council, society chairman Philip Riden said: “I understand that extensive works have been in progress for some weeks at the property, including cutting down mature trees forming part of the park landscape around the hall, and the laying of hardstanding to create a car-park.
"We are very unhappy indeed about this damage to the setting of a listed building of a sort that is impossible to make good in the short term.”
Mr Riden said a council letter to the owner was not ‘likely to be a sufficient deterrent to Mr Harrison’, and only ‘the personal intervention of an officer of the borough council by a site visit is likely to make him stop work’.
According to planning documents, Mr Harrison is also hoping to carry out a conversion of ‘the existing garage building to create an internal space suitable for conducting wedding ceremonies, and the creation of a car parking area’.
We have asked Mr Harrison for a response to the claims but he has not yet responded.
He previously told the Derbyshire Times he had gone ‘above and beyond’ to secure the correction permissions for his plans for Dunston Hall.
Mr Harrison added: “Our hope here is to rent out Dunston Hall and allow people to enjoy its stunning interior and gardens once more.”
A spokesperson for Chesterfield Borough Council said: “We are aware of the concerns relating to current work at this site and have been in contact with the building owner to provide advice and guidance.
"We are also in contact with Chesterfield Civic Society to let them know we are following up on their concerns.”