THE TOWN & COUNTRY PLANNING DEPARTMENT has moved swiftly to halt the restorative work that has all but destroyed the more than 360-year-old distinctive Dutch architecture atop the capital city’s oldest building.
And the owners of the building have been given 28 days to restore the building to its original design, pending an application to the department.
A stop notice has been posted on the Nicholls Building, located at the corner of Lucas and James Streets, bringing a temporary end to the work that threatened to wipe out all traces of 1650s curvilinear gables and that has destroyed other distinctive features of the building.
That notice, posted last Wednesday, informs the owner, occupier and interest[ed] party that the Chief Town Planner, in exercising powers conferred on him by Sections 40(B)1 of the Town and Country Planning Act, is prohibiting “the carrying out or continuation on the land of the operations specified in [an] attached enforcement notice of renovations of a listed building, being operations which appear to him to constitute a breach of planning control or to be so closely associated therewith as to constitute substantially the same operations”.
The accompanying Enforcement Notice gives the parties 28 days from the date of the notice to “restor[e] the land to its condition before the development took place to wit: the restoration of the said listed building”.
Yesterday, Acting Deputy Chief Town Planner George Browne told the WEEKEND NATION that the Stop Notice and the accompanying Enforcement Notice were posted after a concerned citizen informed the department that work was being carried out on a listed building and enquired if the owner had sought permission to do any restorative work.
“Both the Stop Notice and the Enforcement Notice give 28 days in which [the owner has] to submit an application requesting permission to retain what has been done,” Browne explained.
He further said the application would then be considered by the Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins, due back to work on Monday, who will decide if to approve or refuse the application.
The building is owned by Commercial Trading Co. Ltd.
This development comes a week after noted historians Dr Karl Watson and Professor Henry Fraser, along with tens of people on social networking sites decried the renovations to the building that was the lynchpin of the island’s bid for World Heritage Site listing.