In 1997 The South Staffordshire Water Company entered into a voluntary agreement with the Environment Agency to cease abstraction via Hanch Tunnel, resulting in the abandonment of Sandfields Pumping Station.
South Staffordshire Waterworks Company sold the site to Persimmon Homes in April 2005 along with a contractual agreement stating that the pumping station is to be preserved and donated to a trust upon completion of the development.
Lichfield District Council granted planning permission that included a Section 106 planning Agreement. This stated that Persimmon Homes must maintain the building and contents and then donate them to a trust upon completion of the development.
Following an invitation from a management board member of The Claymills Pumping Engines Trust, an initial meeting was held on 17 January 2012 with the Planning Department of Lichfield District Council. The officers of the Planning Department stated that they would like to see the Section 106 agreement fulfilled, however Persimmon Homes had not been responding to their emails and letters. They also said that they had sort legal advice and had been advised that in their opinion the Section 106 planning Agreement was not sufficiently robust enough to stand up.
There have been subsequent meeting and a site visit on 4 May 2012. The engine was in remarkably good condition considering there is no heating or lighting. We noted that there has been some metal theft from the roof of the condenser house, and that it appeared that some unauthorised access had been made to the main roof.
This damage could seriously compromise the structural integrity of the building and pose a severe risk to the 1874 Cornish engine. Both the Planning Enforcement Team and the Senior Conservation Officer were on this visit and aware of this damage, however no action appears to have been taken.
The Planning Enforcement Officer has promise to take this matter up with the Development Executive, who it was promised would contact me to discuss progressing this matter. Despite a gentle reminder, no contact has been made to date.
Sandfields Pumping Station is a valuable artefact of Victorian Heritage, however in its current sate it holds very little value in the way of bargaining power. The Pumping Station desperately needs some friends who can give it a voice; a voice that can shout loud enough to move people into doing what they are actual paid to do; protect out heritage.
Would you be willing to add your voice to this project by helping to build a ‘Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station Society’, if so please contact me to express your interest.