Council forced to pay up over sails

Dale Abbey windmill
Dale Abbey windmill

A historic windmill in Dale Abbey may finally get its sails back, despite the council failing in its legal bid to order its owner to repair it.

Owner of the Grade-I listed Cat and Fiddle mill, Mel Richardson, won £4,000 costs after showing one sail had fallen off and a second was removed because it was dangerous.

Erewash Borough Council had issued an enforcement notice, ordering the ‘reinstatement of the sails’ because the 18th-century mill is on a national list of important buildings.

But the legal notice failed and Mr Richardson was awarded costs because of the expense in preparing an appeal against the council move.

Ilkeston businessman Mr Richardson declined to comment about winning costs from the council but said on Tuesday: “I will have something to say about the windmill in a few months’ time.”

He has owned it for many years, after it was among farmland sold by the British Steel Corporation, which owned Stanton Ironworks.

It dominates the skyline between Ilkeston and Spondon and originally had four sails but none is in place at the moment.

Erewash Borough Council’s planning committee was told of the legal moves in a report by head of planning Steve Birkinshaw on Wednesday.

He said: “The owner has committed to repairing and replacing the sails by September 2012, although this is a timescale which the council is unable to enforce.”

Cllr Glennice Birkin replied: “This is part of our national heritage and it is quite wrong he could let it fall down and we can’t do anything about it.

“This is a national disgrace – if it was Chatsworth they would do something about it.”

Committee chairman Cllr Robert Parkinson told members: “Taking sails down for health and safety reasons suggests there is no proper maintenance.”

Many people have contacted the council about the state of the building, which is believed to stand on the site of a 13th-century mill operated by monks at Dale Abbey.

Pictures of the mill have been used on council brochures.

Cllr Howard Griffiths said: “It is a landmark and there it is with no sails on. A windmill without its sails isn’t a windmill.”

And Kirk Hallam Cllr John Frudd added: “From being one of the most pleasant features of the landscape it is a blot on the landscape.”