From the Liverpool Daily Post, 19th May 2005:

The High Court rejects
David Stagg's plea

Man loses battle to rebuild Victorian villa in greenbelt

May 19 2005
By Liam Christopher, Daily Post Correspondent

A MAN fighting to rebuild a 200-year-old Grade II listed Merseyside villa brick by brick suffered another setback yesterday after the High Court dismissed his case.

David Stagg wants to rebuild Sandown Hall - the former Wavertree home of Victorian Mayor of Liverpool Hugh Hornby - on a site in Macclesfield, Cheshire. But he has been unable to get planning permission for his project because the land is in the greenbelt. And now the building is set to be shipped to America or Japan.

Mr Stagg, of Brynton Road, Macclesfield, Cheshire, has not been able to persuade Macclesfield Borough Council - and then a government planning inspector - there are "exceptional circumstances" for bending strict green belt rules. In November last year, Mr Stagg's appeal against the council's decision was dismissed, prompting him to launch a judicial review challenge yesterday at the High Court.

But Mr Justice Sullivan dismissed the case, concluding there had been no "error of law" in the planning inspector's decision. It means that the hall - much loved by the people of Liverpool until it was taken apart in 2000 - will probably be shipped overseas to America or Japan.

The court heard the hall was built in 1810 in the style of a Greek Villa and, although it became listed, permission was granted in 2000 to demolish it from where it stood in Wavertree, Liverpool. It was subsequently dismantled, but its many architecturally important features - including much of its stone work - were stored in the hope it could one day find a new home.

For many years, until 1990, it was used as a sports and recreation centre by the biscuit makers Crawfords, which employed 5,000 people. It was also the home of Mr Hornby, a prominent historical figure in Liverpool who was the city's mayor between 1838 and 1839.

Mr Stagg was initially refused planning permission in January, 2004, and 10 months later the planning inspector upheld the decision. He concluded there could be no justification for building on the greenbelt, especially as Sandown Hall had "no links" to the Macclesfield area.

Mr Justice Sullivan agreed the people of Liverpool had a "very different relationship" with the hall than those who lived near its proposed new home. Expressing sympathy for Mr Stagg's desire to keep the building in the UK, the judge said that was not a good enough reason to interfere with greenbelt policy. "Mr Stagg has put a great deal of time, effort and money into the proposal," said the judge. "But he has to recognise the inspector simply took a different view of the significance of keeping the hall in the UK."

Mr Stagg, who was also ordered to pay £5,262 of the planning inspector's legal costs, declined to comment after yesterday's hearing.


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