Cranbrook’s Tillhouse Farm - what happened after the fire...
PUBLISHED: 10:36 09 December 2016 | UPDATED: 10:43 09 December 2016
Following the huge blaze at Cranbrook’s Tillhouse Farm on Tuesday, December 15, 2015, big efforts took place to salvage its remains because of the building’s Grade II listing.
In a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, East Devon District Council (EDDC) said that on December 22, 2015 it issued an urgent works notice to Cranbrook’s Consortium – the farm’s owners.
The works included propping all window openings, shoring the front and rear of the building, covering the walls with a breathable membrane and some chimney work.
On January 18, 2016, Andy Wood – projects director for the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point Team – gave an update during a Cranbrook Town Council (CTC) meeting.
He said the Consortium had quickly responded to the urgent works notice, saying that it wouldn’t do the repair work. EDDC had then appointed contractors (Blue Swan) who completed the work.
“I don’t think there is any great desire from the consortium to reinstate the building,” Mr Wood told councillors at the meeting.
On March 4, 2016, EDDC issued the Consortium with a Section 55 Recovery of Expenses Notice, asking for settlement of £21,078.39 debt in relation to the repair works to shore up Tillhouse Farm. The debt was repaid to EDDC by July 25, 2016.
Interviewed recently about events after the fire, Mr Wood said: “It was disappointing that the Consortium responded, saying that they weren’t going to do the works themselves and they didn’t feel the remains of the building were worth keeping.
“I was keen that the farmhouse was restored to its listed condition, so that’s why we issued the urgent works notice. We invoiced the consortium because it’s their property and we were doing the works on their behalf.
“In reflection on the last 12 months, [it was] very unfortunate that someone decided to burn it down. I’m pleased we took immediate steps and I’m grateful to Chris Booty [EDDC’s enforcement officer] for making sure that the urgent works notice was issued and lining up a contractor to do the work.
“I’m grateful to Blue Swan for doing the works. I’m also grateful that the Consortium is now part of a project group that is looking at a scheme that will be beneficial to the community.”