Council knocks down old arson hit care home

Pinfold House in Ruskington, damaged after the arson attack in July. EMN-140812-150048001
Pinfold House in Ruskington, damaged after the arson attack in July. EMN-140812-150048001

One of the area’s most problematic empty homes has been demolished by the district authority .

North Kesteven District Council took direct action to arrange the demolition of Pinfold House in Ruskington, a former children’s home and care home which was destroyed by fire in the summer.

For years it had been a magnet for young people trespassing, causing damage, graffiti and arson – which created concerns for community safety and ultimately its demise.

The council has worked over many years to deal with issues over access, ownership, legal responsibilities and long-term use at Pinfold House; stepping this up after the fire in July made the building even more dangerous.

The authority said the property’s owners Gloucester Homes had intended to demolish the building in the summer but this did not take place. The demolition has instead been carried out under enforcement powers to remove risk to the public under the Building Act 1984. The order had been served long before the July fire.

The debt for all the work has been registered as a land charge and if necessary the council will be able to force the sale of the land to recover the money and the site could be redeveloped for housing.

Coun Mike Gallagher, chairman of North Kesteven Community Safety Partnership, said: “In the absence of distant corporate owners and tenants involved in the care sector, many thousands of pounds of public funds have been spent securing, patrolling and protecting this empty building.”

The Standard had attempted to contact Gloucester Homes but no comment had been received at time of going to press.

There are currently 381 empty homes in North Kesteven, 123 of them having been empty for more than two years.

The council estimates that by leaving a house vacant, owners are missing out on around £6,000 a year in lost rent, rising council tax costs, insurance and general depreciation.

Coun Stewart Ogden, executive board member for housing said: “The work we put in through support, coercion and just opening owners’ eyes to the potential income they’re missing out on by leaving properties empty, is making a significant difference to communities across the district and making many more houses available.”