derelict Northumbria Idle Org property damaged by fire

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Re: derelict Northumbria Idle Org property damaged by fire

Post by Sponge » Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:05 am

I'm afraid it is not so easy, legally speaking, to demolish a grade II listed building (it was originally a victorian school house, built in 1879, with later additions).
Right outside in the public park grounds within a few yards of the building is a statue of the first mayor of Gateshead, almost giving an air of official approval. Miscavige would have loved this. ... id=1277865
(general wikipedia on Listed Building status: )

It can indeed be seen on the hill from the main road as you drive towards the huge Metro Centre shopping mall or across the Tyne river on your way to Newcastle city centre or the airport. I don't think many would stop by though, no matter how spangly their sign might have been. Not in Gateshead.
Their nearest city org is in Sunderland, just a bit to the east, and it is as good as dead, often having its doors closed according to several local recons. Nope, had the idle org been finshed, it would be just another big vacant shiny bricks'n'mortar billboard for Miscavige to be able to say at IAS events "scientology is expanding....look....honest....I have pictures!"

Scientology's former hopeful impression from their art department:

almost from the same angle, the reality....

According to local council planning records, prior to it being purchased by stupid chump scientologist and estate agent, Richard Pickles in 2007, the property had previously been given planning permission to turn the then recently closed nursing home building into dwellling units when a developer was interested in purchasing the property. But no, that didn't happen. Instead scientology got hold of it and does exactly what it always does. They let it stand dormant for years whilst they reg as much money as they can from their members. I'm sure the cult could pull something from its big old war chest and renovate it imediately if it really wanted to, like it could with the empty buildings in Birmingham, Plymouth, Manchester. All those places have English Heritage statutory listing too and are also set to fall apart. Scientology UK is a heritage destruction machine.
Hopefully some developer will buy it and turn it into something that is actually useful and do so in a reasonable space of time.
I'd love to know what it's being valued at. Is it worth more than the purchase price of £1.5million?

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Re: derelict Northumbria Idle Org property damaged by fire

Post by Sponge » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:30 pm

Local Authority (Gatehead Council) cabinet documents:

Firstly, from September (when the scafolding and tarps when up on the fire damaged building).... ... abinet.doc
22nd Sept 2011

Windmill Hills Former Nursing Home

A draft urgent works notice was served on the owners of this building on 9 August 2011, setting out the works required to secure the building, prevent further damage to the building following a fire in July, and to stop any further deterioration.

The owner’s solicitors have confirmed in writing that they intend to comply with the works set out in the draft Notice and expect that this will be completed this month. Officers will monitor the progress of works on site and have taken steps to enable the Council to serve the Urgent Works Notice, should it be deemed necessary. As yet, the owners have not confirmed their long term plans for the building.
The cult did know their long term plans for the building. Well documented on their own websites that they wanted to make it their "Northumbria Ideal Org" (see previous post with the cult's own artwork, and there are also 3D computer renderings of the interior that have been posted before). After the fire damage the local scientologists even "won" £20,000 from the mothercult in their "ideal org football contest" for the express purpose of going towards their local ideal org building.

More docs from January, which is when we found out the cult had thrown in the towel and were putting it up for sale.... ... 2draft.doc
16th Jan 2012



Former Windmill Hills School – included on the local risk register

This is a Grade II listed building which has been vacant for a number of years. In 2007 it was sold to the Church of Scientology, who later deemed it unsuitable for their purposes but, due to the decline in the economy is unable to recover their expenditure. The property has been subject to vandalism, theft and fire damage and most recently, in 2011 the northern wing was badly damaged by fire. The Council served a draft Urgent Works Notice on the Church, which prompted them to secure the building and the Council are currently working with the insurers to secure the repair of the fire damaged section. On completion of the repairs consideration will be given to using a s.215 notice to secure repairs to the remainder of the building. The site is recognised in the draft Urban Core Area Action Plan as being part of the Town Centre and wider regeneration needs.
"Unsuitable for their purposes". Riiight. lol.
They paid £1.5 million for this shit exactly 5 years ago, sat on it all this time whilst purchasing and opening other buildings round the world, and somehow failed to spot the that the property/land value has steadily tanked over the last 3 years at least.

You may ask: what's that "S.215 notice" menioned in the dox? Basically this....
  • S.215 of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990) provides local authorities with an
    additional, discretionary power for requiring landowners to clean up 'land adversely affecting
    the amenity of the neighbourhood'. Local authorities also have powers to undertake clean up
    works themselves under s.215 and to recover costs from the landowner.
Hmm, isn't that Royal Fleet Hotel building which the cult bought in Plymouth not so long ago also a grade II listed building which, if left to go to ruin like the Gateshead Northumbria building, could see a S.215 notice being ordered? Isn't it also in a similar kind of neighbourhood with residents in the immediate vicinity. I wonder how it faired this winter. We could do with some recent pics.

Note that s.215 notices do NOT have to be complaint led. They can be used proactively by local councils (and I would imagine especially so, if a decrepid property sits within an area that has been designated for regional development and a persistent failure on behalf of the building/land's owner to tidy it up would hamper such regional improvement plans).
Costs are very easily recovered from the owner through various means if the council uses direct action to undertake the work themselves (as opposed to prosecuting for non-compliance first). See s.215 guidance docs...

Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Section 215. Best Practice Guidance ... 319798.pdf

Derelict Land and Section 215 Powers: main document ... 157881.pdf

9. Effectiveness of s.215 Notices
  • 92% of respondents felt that s.215 powers were effective (41% considered them to be very
    effective) in securing the actions required by the local authority to clean-up sites;
  • s.215 powers are effective as a 'threat' or informal mechanism for cleaning up sites -
    around 20% of notices approved in 1998-99 were not served, implying that action was
    taken by the landowners in the face of the 'threat' of a s.215 notice being served;
  • s.215 notices are effective in terms of securing compliance - 80% of notices served in
    1998-99 resulted in compliance and only 6% were appealed. Only 6-8% of notices resulted
    in works in default by the authority;
  • s.215 is regarded as effective in securing longer term regeneration by a significant
    minority of authorities - 30% of respondents stated that s.215 was effective as a
    regeneration tool.

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