A PROPERTY developer who carried out unauthorised demolition on a Grade II*-listed building near Northwich has been been fined and handed community service.

Laurence Daw, 32, was prosecuted by Cheshire East Council after working extensively on Aston Park House in Aston by Budworth without permission.

He pleaded guilty to 15 offences under the 1990 Planning Act and three offences under the 1984 Building Act, and was sentenced by magistrates in Crewe on Friday, November 30.

Daw runs a string of property companies, mostly registered to an address in Kent, but gave addresses in Knutsford and Burnley to the court and was previously living in a mobile home at Aston Park House.

The offences included demolition of a two-storey historic cheese room and tradesman’s entrance, the removal of sash windows, gable coping stones, guttering, lime mortar pointing, part of a staircase, floor tiles, door frames, window linings and architraves, ceilings and soffits, an external boundary wall and the use of insulation spray foam on the fabric of the building.

Notices have been served for the work to be rectified, but some aspects of the historic fabric of the building have been permanently lost.

Cllr Ainsley Arnold, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration, said: “Mr Daw’s actions with this property amounted to reckless vandalism and I want to thank the council officers, who have worked with Historic England and other experts, for their diligence and commitment in bringing this case to court and achieving this result.”

Cllr Paul Findlow, cabinet member for corporate policy and legal services, added: “This is another example of our team of professional officers having the knowledge and experience to pursue these complex cases with confidence.

“The council continues to work to ensure that the significant damage which has been caused to this very important historic asset is remediated in accordance with the listed building enforcement notices it has issued.”

The property, in Budworth Road, is described in records as a Queen Anne country house with its origins recorded in the Domesday Book.

It is one of 2,647 listed buildings in the borough, of which only 181 are categorised as Grade II* and was once part of the Arley Estate, one of the county’s outstanding visitor attractions.

The star rating indicates the building is of particular importance and of more than special interest. Less than six per cent of listed buildings in the country are Grade II*.

Charles Smith, Historic England’s north-west principal adviser for heritage at risk, said: “Our built heritage makes a positive cultural, social and environment contribution to the nation. It is, however, a fragile resource.

“We will continue to work closely with Cheshire East Council to rectify as much of the damage as possible. We hope that this sad episode will remind other owners of the need to treat listed buildings with respect and care.”

Daw must carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and pay £65,000 in court costs as well as a £2,250 fine and £85 victim surcharge.