Mexborough and Swinton Times March 27, 1936
Slum Clearance Inquiry
Old Conisbrough Property
Mr H. H. Jewell, F. R. I. B. A., a Ministry of health inspector, sat for four hours at Conisbrough yesterday at an enquiry into an application by Conisbrough Urban Council for a slum clearance orders in respect of property at Conisbrough in Smith’s or Maltkin Yard. West Street, Beech Hill (two orders), Chapel Lane, Old Hill and Church Street (two orders).
There were present Mr H. Taylor, County Sanitary Inspector (formerly of Wath), on behalf of the County Medical Officer of Health: Mr Spencer Baker, clerk to the Conisbrough Council; Mr R. H. Shepard chairman of the council; Mr G. Oldfield, Chairman of the Housing Committee of the Council, and solicitors representing the owners of property, including Mr F. Ogley (Oxley and Coward, Rotherham) and Mr C. M. Hattersley ( Messrs J. W. and A. E. Hattersley, Mexborough).
Cart Before the Horse.
At the commencement of the enquiry Mr Ogley indicated an objection that arrangements for the re housing dispossessed persons were not in existence, and dealing summarily with this, Mr Spencer Baker said it might be pointed out that the council were putting the cart before the horse. The usual procedure was to deal with clearance orders and subsequently make the provision for re housing dispossessed tenants. The council had proceeded in the reverse order, having commenced a re-housing scheme before their claimant scheme. Consequently 50 houses were at the present time, in the course of election. When they completed their scheme of rehousing due in about 15 months’ time, 100 houses would have been erected. It was anticipated that if their programme went through those dispossessed would be rehoused immediately without the slightest inconvenience.
The inspector indicated that he would inspect the areas after the enquiry.
Mr Barker continued that on November 13, 1935, the council made eight clearance orders. Eight sets of objections had been filed in answer to their application and details will be given by the surveyor. Mr H. Thirlwall and the medical officer, Dr J. McArthur. Considering the population of the area when the age of many of the dwelling houses, this was a very small clearance scheme. It consisted of 98 houses. There were originally 100. But having regard to the advice of the Minister that single houses could not be considered to be areas, two of the houses have been taken out and have been dealt with under section 18 of the act of 1930. At the moment they would deal with 52. He understood that one objection in the case of Beech Hill number two area have been withdrawn, but with that its section the others stood.
The surveyor first outlined the defects in connection with the first order (Smith’s or Maltkiln yard) to which there was an objection in respect of 11, 12 and 13, Station Road and Mr C. Marshall Hattersley (on behalf of the owner Miss George Kilner) said he was prepared to allow the demolition of number 13. Mr Thirlwall continued that the owner had submitted proposals for converting the two remaining houses into one making the four bedrooms into three, and all installing certain structural alterations. The council submitted that their proposals were a long way off the standard required. They were estimated to cost £168 expenditure which was high. Having regard to the dilapidated state of the property. The council thought it unwise that the property should be patched up
Asked by Mr Hattersley what he considered the most serious defect in the property at The Moment, The Surveyor Said That It Was Worn Out. He Had Already Run Through The proposals submitted by the owners, and considered that they did not go far enough. They had dealt with them on their merits.
Mr Hattersley contended that the items referred to by the Surveyor were merely “many repairs,” and small matters which they were fully prepared to put in order. Proceedings with regard to the property had been first mentioned about nine months ago and it was reasonable to suppose that the owner had not carried out many repairs during that time.
The Surveyor disagreed that this would have some effect on the present condition. They had been in the state for years he said. It was impossible to state the age of the property, but he would estimate it at 75 to 100 years.
The Medical Officer endorsed the Surveyor’s opinion that the houses were not fit for habitation.
Mr D. L. Stanniland, Chartered Surveyor, Doncaster was called by Mr Hattersley to give particulates of proposals submitted for repairing the property. They considered, he said that the proposals covered the major defects as outlined by the council, and were submitted before the council outlined theirs. Consequently there were outstanding items – which, however, they would be perfectly willing to include. The proposals in the original scheme were estimated to cost £65, and with the additional detail £77.
Mr Spencer Baker contended that one might draw from that statement that the repair work would be of the cheapest possible character. The estimate of their own surveyor being substantially double that prepared by Mr Stanniland.
Mr Stanniland said he did not wish to criticise that given by Mr Thirlwall, but he would point out that in similar cases he had been very near to the mark. There was no point in his misleading the owners, he contended that there was very little required in the matter of structural alterations, and would suggest that the difference might be attributed to the fact that the council surveyor had more money to go at the owners.
The Clerk contended that the proposals bore only superficial resemblance to the Council scheme, but Mr Stanniland said they covered the major point stressed by the council.
“Worse on Paper.”
Mr Hattersley said their proposals were made as long ago as last September, and they could not possibly cover every conceivable item. They had professional advice on the necessary alterations and submitted that a number of the smaller items were included to make the condition of the houses appear worse than it actually was. Many of the Council’s objection fell to the ground when the two houses were incorporated into one. He suggested that sympathetic consideration should be accorded to the owners. If the Minister of Health thought necessary to confirm the order he respectfully asked that reasons in writing be given.
The Clerk then dealt with the second clearance order relating to the numbers two, four and six, Church Street, the owner of which, Mr George Senior, appeared on his own behalf. To numbers 2 and 4 he said he raised no objection, but suggested that the remaining building might be used as a lock-up shop.
The surveyor said with regard to that suggestion he would point out that it would open almost directly on the carriageway with only a narrow pavement between.
Mr Senior said he had the property since 1919 and he has spent considerably more than it done he had got out of it. It was purchased chiefly as property adjoining his builder’s yard was required. The Surveyor said the council would, no doubt be prepared to meet him in that respect subject to certain proposals being carried out.
The Clerk said it would be subject to the approval of the Council.
In the case of the third order (relating to numbers 22, 25 and 26, Church Street), Mr Hattersley appeared on behalf of the executor, Mr Kilner. It was stated that the buildings comprise what appeared to have been at one time a barn. They were in a very bad state. The owners had submitted proposals, but again the council did not believe they went far enough. Repairs were estimated to cost £275 or £92 per house. Even that would leave much to be desired.
Mr Hattersley contended that the houses formed a very compact and neat site. Mr Stanniland stated that repairs and alterations prepared would cost approximately £160 10s, £157 of which have been accounted for in their original proposals before they receive the suggestion of the council.
Mr Hattersley said the houses were extremely suitable for those who at present lived in them, and contended that that was a point which should be considered. The only difference which existed between the owners and the Council was as to whether their proposals went far enough. They would not “spoil the ship for a pennyworth of tar.”
The Clerk replied that the council wished to provide the best possible accommodation for ratepayers, and it may be that the standard now considered by the tenants living in their houses was not very high. That did not justify their staying there.
Defects Not Disputed.
The Surveyor then outlined the defects as laid down by the council in respect to the fourth clearance order (referring to numbers four and six West Street) and Mr Ogley, in reply, contended that it was impracticable for these buildings to be demolished. He was prepared to give the undertaking that the property would not be used for human habitation if the Minister thought fit to accept his suggestion. He wished to make use of the building as storage accommodation. The defects were not disputed, but they considered that no useful purposes would be served by pulling the structures down.
The Clerk pointed out that Mr Ogley called no evidence to support this statement and it was mutually agreed to leave the issue to the Inspector on his visit.
Numbers 16, New Hill, one, three, five, seven and nine, Beech Hill and 11 a, March Street, comprising the fifth order were next dealt with. An undertaking was given that number 11 March Street, would not be used for human habitation. The Surveyor said from a tablet on one of the buildings it was ascertained that the property was approximately 200 years old. The date given being 1736. It was one of those “conglomerate sort of structures,” in very weird form. “You will be mightily interested to see it, sir,” he said. Mr Ogley said the age of the property was not disputed, but age could not be taken as a criterion. He agreed to put in, at a later date plans of reconstruction.
A letter formally withdrawing objection to the sixth order (relating to 13, 15, 17, 19 and 21, Beech Hill) was received from Mr George Brocklesby, and Mr H. Parks, owner. appeared on his own behalf in the case of the seventh, relating to numbers seven and nine, Chapel Lane. After hearing evidence given by the Surveyor, Mr Parks said he did not wish to incur unnecessary expense and would stand by the decision of expert opinion. He had not actually a practical idea of what was necessary, and agreed that, probably, repairs would be a waste of money.
The last order referred to property on Old Hill, and Mr H. E. Wilson, estate agent, contended that the premises at number 15 could be suitably adapted as business premises.
The Surveyor said this was another weird structure. There would probably be no objection to the conversion as suggested, subject to confirmation of proposals.
The Clerk, at the conclusion of the enquiry laid stress on the fact that where warehouses were made into one the owner would actually require much larger rental than previously. If the tenant was not prepared, or unable, to pay it, he would automatically become dispossessed.
Mr Thirlwall mentioned that an objection had been made about the nonexistence of plans for rehousing, at the commencement of the enquiry, but Mr Ogley replied that it was merely a formal objection and that he now withdrew it.
The enquiry was closed.