A planning chief who broke the rules to make unauthorised renovations to her listed home has been ordered to pay £115,000.
Barby Dashwood-Morris – the former chairwoman of Wealden District Council’s planning committee – made illicit changes to her 14th century Grade II listed home in H`ellingly while at the same time dishing out rulings on how other people could change their homes.
Dashwood-Morris, 70, and her partner Alan Proudfoot, 54, created a grand entrance hall with a glass staircase that caused a “substantial erosion to the historic details” of the house.
Dashwood-Morris was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay half of the council’s £80,000 legal costs. District Judge Tereza Szagun said she considered Dashwood-Morris’s position on the council an aggravating feature leading to her being more harshly punished than her former partner.
Proudfoot was fined £48,000 and ordered to pay his share of costs.
Dashwood-Morris had claimed she believed the works did not require listed building consent.
The former couple made “irrevocable” changes to the priest house.
One feature removed was thought to be a priest hole – a hiding place for catholic priests during persecutions. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, catholic priests were often imprisoned, tortured and even killed.
A servant’s entrance added in the 18th century – which was described as an important architectural feature showing the social history of the time – had been replaced near to the grand entrance hall.
Dashwood-Morris, who still lives in the Priest House in Church Lane, previously admitted six counts of making alterations to a listed building without consent. Proudfoot, who now lives in Chemin des Pradelles in Provence, France, pleaded guilty to four similar charges.