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Wiltshire under fire for not removing “running sore” on the face of Marlborough

The failure of Wiltshire Council to tackle of the condemned and dilapidated  buildings on the adjoining site of Marlborough’s only garage has come under fire from county councillor Nick Fogg.

Deans Garage, on the edge of the bridge in London Road, whose petrol prices have been claimed to be the highest in the county, has been served with orders to repair a grade II listed property under threat of legal action.

But more than a month has passed since senior conservation officer Pippa Card wrote to Marlborough town council that she would give garage owner Mr Zubair Dean one final chance to restore the properties at what is officially known as the Bridge Garage.

All that has happened is that Mr Dean has now put the garage on the market to let, and Ms Card has told Marlborough News Online: “I am not particularly encouraged by the owner's willingness to instigate these (repairs) himself, hopefully someone will take on the full repairing lease currently offered.”

But Mr Fogg, twice Marlborough’s mayor, declares: “I am very disappointed in this reaction. This property has been a running sore on the face of the town for many years.”

“It is not good enough that the owner should be permitted to divert attention from his failure to maintain this property by attempting to hive off responsibility to anyone who might be prepared to take it on.”

“In the present and, indeed, any other climate, it would seem unlikely that there will be any takers.  Immediate steps should be taken to secure a repair order.”

It was on April 19 this year that Mr Dean was served with an emergency prohibition order under Section 43 of the Housing Act, 2004, which gave him 28 days to carry out repairs, and also meant that it could no longer be used for housing.

The property, which adjoins a former antiques emporium also in need of major refurbishment, was boarded up.  The statutory notice, which was fixed to the listed property, is no longer visible.

Then, on August 19, Ms Card wrote to town clerk Liam Costello telling him that a final chance was being given to Mr Dean to restore the listed building or face legal action.

But in reply to new questions, Ms Card, who is aware that the garage has been put up to let, now responds: “As for the legality of the responsibility of carrying out repairs to the building, I am not in a position to answer your question.  

“The building has not been sold i.e. transfer of ownership, so I assume it will be down to the lease agreement between the owner and potential new tenant.”

“Only the agents or the owner's solicitors would be able to answer this who, I assume, would not divulge this information to third parties.”

And she adds: “I am aware of the building's situation and whilst I hope that my contact with the owner will initiate repairs to the building, having seen the current advert (that makes it clear the buildings require refurbishment), I am not particularly encouraged by the owner's willingness to instigate these himself: hopefully someone will take on the full repairing lease currently offered.”

Wiltshire’s inaction has angered local residents now that a 'To Let' sign has been posted on the listed property with the name of Swindon agents Kilpatrick on it.

There is a fear to that Wiltshire, which described the listed property as being of “national importance”, will not use its legal powers to solve the situation.

That may be because Ms Card, in her letter to the town clerk, revealed: “The council has relatively few powers and resources to enforce the repair and upkeep of the listed building, and even less when unlisted buildings are concerned, even when located within a conservation area.”

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