The mast is an iconic feature of HMS Ganges
Question from Cllr David Wood at a full meeting of BDC 25TH June 2013‘
There is great concern both locally and nationally about the fast declining condition of the mast at HMS Ganges Shotley. This iconic symbol located on the Shotley Peninsula has been sadly neglected for several years and is in urgent need of restoration. We have heard several excuses from the owners but as yet no action. Myself, and a multitude of others, wish to see Babergh take a firm stance to resolve this matter sooner rather than later. What powers of enforcement does Babergh have to ensure that this historic structure is renovated immediately instead of waiting for the development of the Ganges site?'
The Council recognises the concern that exists about this important Suffolk landmark which enjoys listed status and is in a conservation area. The mast has not been restored but its condition has been closely monitored over the years and the last regular inspection took place in March this year. These regular inspections had revealed no marked deterioration. Since then and in response to concerns raised, a further unplanned inspection took place yesterday and it has become apparent that a section of the lower yardarm has in fact dropped. The Council is now contacting the site owners to ensure that the mast is stabilised.
The mast is part of the former Ganges site which benefits from an extant outline planning permission for 404 retirement homes and a residential care home. The Reserved Matters application that relates to that outline permission is subject to a long standing appeal process. The site owners have now made a further application for the site which is now being progressed and is likely to come before Committee for a decision in the next few months.
Whether the site is developed under the existing outline permission or in relation to any new consent that may or may not be granted in relation to the current application, the development proposals include arrangements for the full restoration of the mast as part of the development.
If the mast were to be restored in advance of the redevelopment of the site, any later site development would have to be done is such a way that the mast remains safe throughout the building project. If the site is not developed or if development is delayed, then it is open to the Council to take enforcement action. lf the Council were minded to do so, there are a number of potential scenarios that would need to be considered, namely:
1. The Council could serve a Repairs Notice. This provides the land owner with 2 months in which to carry out repairs. lf those repairs don't happen, the Council will have to consider whether to serve a Compulsory Purchase Order.
2. lf the Council takes this step, then it can seek to recover the costs from the owner, or take a charge on the land. A CPO would require Sec of State approval and compensation may be payable to the land owner.
3. The site owner could also seek a de-listing if enforcement action were to be taken.
None of these scenarios is ideal and the Chief Executive has recommended that (subject to the mast being stabilised) the Council takes no enforcement action pending the outcome of the current planning application. lf the application is unsuccessful and there is no prospect of early development of the site, then the Council will immediately reconsider its options.