A TROUBLED man in Wotton-under-Edge is waiting to see whether Stroud District Council (SDC) will decide to prosecute him for allowing his home to get in a dilapidated state or instead use tax payers’ money to repair the building itself.
The neglected semi-detached house on The Chipping has seen part of the roof cave in and the gardens completely overgrown.
Other sections of the roof are hanging off, vegetation is starting to grow inside the building and most of the windows have been shattered and boarded up.
The retired owner, Derrick Pegler, 68, who uses a crutch to walk, now lives in only one ground floor room of his home as a lack of money and poor health leave him unable to keep up with maintenance.
The house faces onto The Chipping square where the Wotton Heritage Centre is based as well as a public car park and is near the town’s swimming pool and cinema.
The building, while not listed, sits in a conservation area, meaning the owner cannot carry out developments which would harm the building’s appearance.
SDC has received numerous complaints over several years about its deteriorating state and its impact on the area.
Neighbour Tracey Jotcham, 52, has come to the end of her tether and wants a solution.
“It’s getting to be a pretty dire situation to be honest,” she said.
“I have told him it is affecting my property and that everything is starting to grow on my side.
“My house is losing value.
“I feel sorry for him. He’s a nice old bloke and I don’t want to upset him but hopefully someone can help him.”
Ms Jotcham added that one window had recently fallen from the first floor, shattering on the adjacent public footpath, and part of his garden wall has also collapsed.
Mr Pegler told the Gazette he hoped the council could sort the problem for him.
“The situation is I have got no money. I live on £540 a month and I am not in the best of health,” he said.
“I can’t do anything, it’s as simple as that. It’s no good prosecuting me, I will just have to go to prison.”
Mr Pegler said he had lived at the house all his life and was not willing to sell up and move.
“The only way I am getting out of here is in a wooden box and the way things are going that won’t be very far away,” he said.
SDC enforcement officer James Cooper is requesting permission from councillors to give a notice requiring the external tidying up of the building but recognises Mr Pegler is unlikely to comply.
In that instance he highlights two options for SDC.
It could seek to prosecute him, with a conviction resulting in several fines but is unlikely to ensure the repairs get done.
Secondly, SDC could carry out the work itself and attempt to recover the costs from Mr Pegler but again it is unlikely he would be able to pay.
Even if the council carried out the substantial and expensive work, Mr Cooper said Mr Pegler was unlikely to maintain it, leaving SDC potentially having to do the work again.
The bill would be registered as a charge against the property, recoverable if the house was sold.
“It is not difficult to see how this may be viewed as taxpayers’ money being spent on maintaining a private individual’s property,” said Mr Cooper.
In the long term, SDC may have the option to force the sale of the property in order to recover repair costs but it was described by Mr Cooper as “a severe step that would deprive a retired man of his home”
SDC’s development control committee is set to make a decision decide the next course of action at their public meeting on Tuesday, August 12 at Ebley Mill at 6pm.