PROSECUTION is ‘being considered’ by Barnsley Council after a fire-hit former care home at risk of collapse was set alight again despite a demolition order being granted months ago.
The latest in a string of serious blazes at the Belmont complex, on Back Lane, Monk Bretton, happened on Wednesday morning at about 4am, leading crews from Cudworth station to attend the scene.
According to fire statistics, the derelict structure which has become a ‘magnet’ for youths has been set alight ten times since last summer.
The council issued a section 215 notice to the building’s owner, EJ Lidster Construction, on February 18 instructing them to demolish the charred remains, giving a two-month limit. However, the term expired earlier this month and the council confirmed legal proceedings are now being explored.
A report said: “The notice was given to demolish any existing building on the land and to dispose of all materials in an environmentally responsible manner.
“It included repairing any existing boundary walls within the curtilage of the land, as well as maintaining any vegetation growth.
“The notice was issued on February 18 and became effective from March 11, giving a time period for compliance of two months.
“This has not been complied with to date. Prosecution action is under consideration.”
The building’s owner submitted a planning application to the council for outline permission to build up to 82 homes on the site, but it’s so far not reached a conclusion.
“During 2018 and 2019, Belmont was repeatedly targeted with vandalism and arson,” the planning statement said. “The proposal is to demolish and redevelop the site for housing.
“Although no bedroom numbers were included with the pre-application enquiry, the education officer has calculated that the development would generate a pupil yield of 17 primary and 12 secondary pupils, requiring a contribution of £403,059.
“Having reviewed historic records there are no obvious historic remains likely to be within the site.
“The proposed dwellings will respect the heights of the adjacent existing buildings.
“The remaining properties to the southern boundary are bungalows but due to the levels on the site being lower, two-storey houses would be suitable in scale in these locations.
“We have considered the existing vehicular entrance to Belmont and have discounted it and propose a new entrance, further along Back Lane.
“We also propose a footpath along the north side of Back Lane.”
The care home was erected in the late 1960s and it was originally used as a residential facility for elderly people but in June 1999, Barnsley Council’s asylum and migration service welcomed 180 humanitarian evacuees from Kosovo to the building, then called Belmont Induction Centre.
The building’s owner, Eric Lidster, told the Chronicle he was not worried by the prospect of court because his company had ‘done everything right’.
“We know our responsibilities and we want our planning application for the site to be passed,” he added.
“But the demolition has not been possible because of a switched-on gas supply. It’s very frustrating, as it does need knocking down and developing.
“Since the recent fire we’ve secured the site, but we appear to be at a bit of an impasse with the planning department.”