Dr Ian Marshman, chairman of Horncastle’s History and Heritage Society, has written a scathing open letter to ELDC Leader Craig Leyland expressing the society’s dismay at a second 1930s cottage at Holmeleigh, Tom Scholey House, being demolished in preparation for the council’s move to new premises in Horncastle, after the first cottage, Ralph Bennett House, was previously demolished in order to make room for six extra car parking spaces.
The decision, Dr Marshman said in his letter, has led to the Society and many people in the town feeling they can no longer have any confidence in ELDC to protect Horncastle’s heritage decision, and shows “contempt for Horncastle’s heritage”.
He continued: “ELDC has failed time and again to take action to protect Horncastle’s historic buildings. Beautiful listed buildings like the Independent Chapel and Grade II Listed Sunday School on Queen Street have been allowed to crumble for decades. Whilst the Water Mill has reached the point where it is having to be partially demolished by its new owner to make it safe, who knows how much can be saved?
“Residents and businesses alike are particularly frustrated with how ELDC has allowed 6 Market Place (Grade II Listed) next to Perkins to deteriorate to the point it could risk collapse.
“After many complaints ELDC finally issued an enforcement notice in April 2021, but the building has continued to decay and we understand this has been extended so the ‘urgent work’ can be delayed until the end of May 2022. This means the eyesore will likely still be looming precariously over our celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June.”
Kay Burge of the Horncastle Trade Association echoed Dr Marchman’s sentiments, and said: “It’s such a shame that in the year of our Platinum Jubilee celebrations, and eyesore like that [6 Market Place] will be in the background of all the photos, it looks awful and it’s crumbling to the point where it is so dangerous.”
Paul Scott, curator of the Natural Science and Heritage Centre at the Sir Joseph Banks Centre, has also lended his support to the HHHS’s campaign:
“I fully support the history societies campaign to save Tom Scholey House from demolition by ELDC, presumably to make further room for car parking at their new headquarters on the old children’s home site,” he said.
“It was named in honour of one of our area’s longest serving district and county councillors who was closely involved with the building of Banovallum School, and many other postwar improvements in the town. It is such a shame that true to form, the district council has failed to consult with local people and even ignores it’s local district councillors.”
Horncastle Mayor and chairman of the Horncastle Town Council, Fiona Martin, is also backing the campaign.
She said: “I’ve complained bitterly about the proposal to take down Tom Scholey House, we’ve not got a lot of heritage buildings left in Horncastle and don’t think we need to demolish another one.
“I support everything Ian and Paul have said.”Dr Marshman has now called on ELDC to reconsider their plans to demolish the remaining cottage, pointing out that Horncastle’s heritage is a major draw for visitors and is a part of what makes Horncastle special, uring the council to “make our town’s heritage a priority and not an afterthought”:
“It isn’t just Horncastle’s history you plan to flatten - Tom Scholey was one of our area’s longest serving district and county councilors, a farmer who became a magistrate and chairman of the old Lindsey County Council. He was behind many of Horncastle’s postwar improvements like the building of Banovallum School and is still fondly remembered by many.
“If nothing else, flattening this useful building with all its embodied carbon is a colossal waste of resources and taxpayers money.”
He added: “I want to make clear that we have an excellent working relationship with many council officers and councillors. But it is clear that they lack the support and resources to protect and promote our heritage. This must change and ELDC needs to take its responsibility for Horncastle and the district’s heritage seriously.”
Portfolio Holder for Property and Finance, Councillor Richard Fry, said: “The Council places great importance on protecting and enhancing the heritage assets in East Lindsey. It does this through the planning system; through improvements to buildings via grants and in the not too distant past enabled the significant restoration of 7 to 13 Bridge Street in Horncastle.
“In relation to Tom Scholey House - initially it was the Council’s intention to retain this building. However, it is now surplus to requirements and the investment it needs can’t be justified.
“Little commercial interest was shown in the building when it was last marketed and the Council has therefore decided that whilst the construction work is underway on site it would be prudent to remove it.”