This week in introduced a new Bill before Parliament to reform Section 215 & 216 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
The Planning (Proper Maintenance of Land) Bill 2020 will remove the feeble £1000 limit for a first conviction and the £100 a day fine for a second conviction, to make it unlimited, empowering judges to determine the amount a rogue landlord should be fined for allowing our built history to be destroyed, ruining the look and feel of our local community.
Price & Kensington is what inspired me to bring forward this Bill. Stoke-on-Trent City Council have worked tirelessly to do all they can to hold this rogue owner to account. His actions are costing the people of Stoke-on-Trent financially and culturally.
Price and Kensington is a large complex of factory buildings situated next to the Trent and Mersey canal and is a grade II* listed building. It is of national importance: it is the only such factory left in existence that demonstrates how the pottery industry evolved over time. Sadly, though, due to the actions of a rogue owner, most of the buildings are not safe for use. Damage is being caused by the systematic removal of slates and windows by the rogue owner, who is determined to do all he can to destroy this building, leaving him with a vacant site to sell for profit.
Although Price and Kensington is the most damning example of this disregard in the constituency, there are many other buildings with similar dilemmas across Stoke-on-Trent, from the Central Hotel in Burslem to Commerce works in Longton.
Historic England have given their support to the Bill and I am grateful.
I have already met with Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and will take up his challenge to get these reforms into the new Planning Reforms green paper.
Our silence so far on this issue has been deafening. We must act now to give the courts the powers to levy unlimited fines against those who destroy the nation’s built heritage.