Grade II listed building repair and conservation

Client: Dunstable Town Council

Location: Dunstable, Bedfordshire

Services: Planning Consultancy, Project Management and Contract Administration


The Brief

Brasier Freeth is the retained property consultant for Dunstable Town Council providing a range of services assisting with alterations to and the preservation of their properties and grounds.

Our initial involvement began with Priory House when Brasier Freeth was commissioned to complete a Building Survey of the Grade II Listed property, which dates back to medieval times. Brasier Freeth has been involved in various repair and maintenance works at Priory House, but most notably, we were instructed to assist with the repair and conservation of the 13th Century four-bay stone-vaulted undercroft structure which was all that remained of the original two-storey structure.

The Journey

Prior to our involvement, refurbishment works were undertaken at Priory House by others, focusing mainly on external repairs and the upper parts of the property. The stonework to the medieval vaulted undercroft had also been cosmetically refurbished and was subject to numerous piecemeal repairs over the years, however, these had not resolved the issue of the stonework deteriorating and spalling and was not a long-term solution.

Brasier Freeth was tasked with inspecting the undercroft to review the condition; investigating the cause of deterioration of the stonework; looking at available remedies to conserve the historical structure and ensuring the property was safe to occupy and that it could remain open for the enjoyment of our client, their staff and the public.

Our investigations included visual examination, stone and render sampling, crack monitoring and historical research. In addition to the natural ageing of the stonework, it was established that the moisture levels were excessive which needed to be addressed. Some of the stonework was beyond repair and required replacement to prevent a future collapse of the vaulted structure.

Brasier Freeth worked with Dunstable Town Council, Central Bedfordshire Council’s conservation team and English Heritage to agree on a suitable level of repair which would be sympathetic to the historical structure, but would also address the issues. Listed Building Consent was obtained which required preparation of detailed drawings, a Conservation Management Plan, a Heritage Asset Assessment and various samples of materials.

We then procured the approved remedial works, tendering a detailed specification to specialist stonemasons and proceeded to act as Project Managers and Contract Administrators managing the repair through to completion, ensuring all works were completed satisfactorily and in accordance with the statutory consents.

The Results

Repairs to the stone-vaulted undercroft structure were successfully completed with the ground floor able to re-open as a café for both the client and the public’s enjoyment. In accordance with the Listed Building Consent and Conservation Management Plan, environmental monitoring continues to be undertaken to ensure the special historical and architectural interest and integrity of the building is conserved and maintained.

Brasier Freeth continues to act for Dunstable Town Council on a variety of instructions.