Mid Suffolk District Council officers have met with the owners of Fisons to agree a plan to protect the historic site in Bramford after a fire broke out on Sunday 8 April.
Following the detachment of material from the building, including bitumen roofing, in recent strong winds, Planning Enforcement and Building Control officers have held discussions with the building’s owner, Paper Mill Lane Properties, outlining the concerns around site and the owner’s responsibility to protect it. These include the submission of proposals for securing or removing the material currently on the roof of the building to render it safe. These discussions follow numerous visits to the site by Mid Suffolk officers since February this year and concerns raised about potential dangers.
Mid Suffolk are also requesting work to secure the site. There have been two reported breaches in the perimeter fencing allowing local children to access the empty factory, which remains in a dangerous state risking injury to trespassers or further damage to the listed building. Paper Mill Lane Properties have agreed to work immediately to secure the site over the coming week.
The vacant factory is one of the best surviving examples of Victorian industrial warehousing in Suffolk, the site having been used as a fertiliser plant since the mid-1800s. Heritage organisations have expressed concern at the condition of the buildings which Mid Suffolk’s Planning Enforcement and Building Control teams are moving to protect.
Mid Suffolk’s Building Control team are responsible, under the Building Act 1984, to ensure any building reported as being in a dangerous state is dealt with accordingly. While the council do not have powers to carry out maintenance or repair works on private property directly, they are empowered to instruct the owners by informal means or, if required, by formal enforcement powers, including through the Magistrates’ Court, to effect such work as is necessary to remove the danger.
Cllr David Burn, Mid Suffolk District Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “We’re lucky to have so many beautiful listed buildings in our district but they bring with them a responsibility to preserve our heritage. The Fisons building is of national importance, telling an important part of the story of rural industry in this country, and we take its preservation extremely seriously. This week our officers have met with Paper Mill Lane Properties and they have acknowledged their responsibility to protect the site and agreed to carry out immediate work to secure the perimeter. I look forward to speaking with them more on longer terms plans to preserve this part of our heritage.”