A former Beverley property developer has warned that illegal alterations to many of Beverley’s listed buildings are damaging the character of the town and could impact upon tourism.
John Dawson, who now runs a historical research company called Ancestry Hunters says that a photographic survey completed by his company in 2013 shows a very high percentage of listed buildings in the east of the town had illegal developments, such as UPCV windows, plastic guttering and satellite dishes.
Mr Dawson says that in some streets to the east of the town up to 95% of listed buildings have illegal alterations, made without planning consent.
Mr Dawson said: “Basically I think that between 20-30 listed buildings in Beverley could now be de-listed because of the work done to them.
“I am shocked by what is happening and so are the civic society, they didn’t realise how bad it had got.
“A lot of people come to Beverley to see the listed buildings, if they degrade it will have a knock on effect on tourism.”
Barbara English, from Beverley and District Civic Society, said: “We have looked at Mr Dawson’s figures and they do seem very alarming.
“Last week the alterations to the ASK restaurant were mentioned but I think that is probably just the tip of the iceberg. We have always worked on the applications that are lodged with the council but we didn’t know that so many alterations were going on to listed buildings under our radar.
“It’s also alarming that people seem to be felling trees in Beverley despite preservation orders.
“I think both these are symptoms of an overworked council that are not putting sufficient resources into protecting listed buildings.
“It is economically dangerous if we were to lose the things that make Beverley special.”
Pete Ashcroft, head of planning and development management at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “The council is aware of the concerns raised by Mr Dawson about Beverley’s built heritage.
“These are shared by the council, which endeavours to make sure that development proposals preserve the character and appearance of our historic towns and villages when they are considering applications for planning and listed building consent. “The council’s planning enforcement officers are already looking into a number of cases involving listed buildings in Beverley and the wider East Riding and, where an illegal alteration is made to a property and evidence of this obtained, will pursue enforcement action, where appropriate.”