Gas company ‘vandalised’ Bury’s last thatched house, says owner

Geoff Staff beside the mud spattered walls of his Grade II listed home.
Picture Mark Westley
Geoff Staff beside the mud spattered walls of his Grade II listed home. Picture Mark Westley
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The owner of the last thatched house in Bury St Edmunds has accused a gas company of ‘vandalising’ the listed 18th century building.

When Cadent Gas wrote to Geoff Staff in October to say it would be laying new gas mains in Home Farm Lane, so would need to work on his home, he called to say Dairy Cottage is Grade II listed so the work would not be straightforward.

Home owner Geoff Staff says he warned Cadent staff rain would cascade into their trench

Home owner Geoff Staff says he warned Cadent staff rain would cascade into their trench

He was told a surveyor would call first but says none did and when Cadent cut off the gas on May 31 it began two weeks of chaotic work which left him cooking on a camping stove for a week and with mud spattered up to a yard up the limewashed, pargeted walls.

Mr Staff said: “They simply vandalise your property.”

He says a workman came on day one saying he was to put a box on the outside wall. Mr Staff said:“I told them you can’t because it’s a listed building and you need consent.”

Later the gas team said they would install a ground box, promising reconnection next day, but nobody turned up. Mr Staff was promised reconnection the following day but as storms were forecast he says he warned them that rain would cascade off the thatch at the point they were to dig.

The work went on and Mr Staff said: “It was like they were digging a well.”

He was then told they had to run a pipe in a trench round the house to the boiler. Mr Staff said he again warned of rain off the thatch but the work went ahead as a storm began and, in spite of a pump, the trench flooded with mud being spattered up the walls.

Mr Staff fears his warnings they would need specialists to repair the external limewashing may also be ignored.

A spokesman for Cadent said: “Unfortunately the information about this property being listed was not passed onto the project team.

“Dealing with a listed building is an unusual situation for our teams and they tried a number of different solutions for installing the new service pipe.

“While we try and do all we can to accommodate the wishes of residents we also have to do all we can to ensure this essential work to maintain safe and reliable gas supplies is delivered on schedule. We cannot stop work due to bad weather or the threat of bad weather, except in exceptional circumstances.

“We are sorry for any inconvenience our work has caused the resident and we are arranging for specialist contractors to carry out appropriate reinstatement work.”