Margate couple’s anger as Diocese decides to flatten 100-year-old wall on their garden boundary

Alan and Donna want the wall repaired not demolished

A row has broken out between the church and its neighbours over a 100-year-old wall in Margate that the Diocese of Canterbury plans to demolish.

The wall runs between a church property in St Peter’s Road and that of its neighbours Donna Garfield and Alan Chapman.

The couple, who moved into their home in 2014, say the wall has never been maintained and is in a dangerous condition.

The pair say they want to see it repaired but the Diocese says this is too expensive and the decision has been made to retain the front of the wall but knock down the rest and replace it with a wooden fence.

The couple say the cost of repairing the 240ft wall has been estimated to be around £40,000 in a contractor quote.

Business owner Donna says the church should stump up the cash.

She said: “There would have been no need to remove this wall had the Diocese of Canterbury maintained it over its life-time which they never have.

“Because of its lack of maintenance, this wall has been unsafe for at least 6 years to our knowledge since moving here in 2014. I have been advised by a contractor that if part of this wall fell it would take the whole 240ft wall down with it and would kill any one standing close to its proximity.

“If this wall however bordered the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral I very much believe they would have maintained it and we wouldn’t be where we are now; that is, asking the church to undertake the necessary maintenance to their properties to make it safe and preserve it.

“We feel the wall is important because it has been standing for over 100 years.  I might add that old walls have a ‘value’ as lime mortar  and old stock bricks are quite beautiful and are becoming increasingly rare.

“The wall matches all of the walls surrounding our garden.  A fence would look totally incongruous to the perimeter walls.  The length of the back garden is around 240 ft long and  its removal will affect my aspect and my property.

“I have been so upset and distressed with the Church’s ‘couldn’t care less attitude’  that at their last visit, I made it clear that I will not allow them onto my property in order for them to remove the wall.

“I told them however that I would let them on to my property to make the wall safe before they  remove the whole thing!  They are also going to remove a large old Acacia tree which stands close to the wall.”

The couple say the church could pay for the repairs, citing the Church of England’s estimated combined wealth of £8.3 billion in 2018.

Donna said: “£40,000 represents a paltry figure in respect of the church’s wealth.I am totally horrified at (the) decision to remove it and not repair it,citing poverty.”

The Diocese has instructed contractors to attend the property and remove any loose brick work before starting works on the new fence

A Diocese spokesperson said: “We understand the resident’s concern about the wall. The cost of repairing the wall would be extremely high – in the region of £40,000. As a charitable organisation we are required to make the best use of our resources and have a responsibility to those who kindly entrust us with their financial gifts.

“Therefore we have made the decision to replace the wall with a fence, both to reduce the cost of the work and to ensure the safety of the boundary.”


    • If thw diocese of Canterbury cant maintain a brick wall, then how are they going to maintain a wooden fence, that wont last as long, if not maintained correctly.

  1. It sounds like false economy to me a wall stands for approx 100 years with no maintenance. To do maintenance on it costs approximately £40,000 not bad. Cost for a new wooden fence approximately 240/250 feet need 41posts and 40 gravel boards 40 fence panels and Labour , wall to be removed taken down removal of rubble access on only one side cost approximately £20,000 to £30,000 high cost of removing wall as any damage caused by falling bricks to the neighbouring property or grounds will no doubt be taken to court or settlement made, how long will fence last without maintenance 100 years not likely to happen about 25 years at best new panels 40 x £40 minimum for cheapest plus labour etc £2,500. Just repair the wall leave it alone for the next 100 years and be done with it.

    • Well said, – I don’t see the need for ‘The Church’ but I do see a need for conservation, and the points you made in a practical manner of speaking makes a great argument for conservation. Is ‘The Church’ then against it? Adamantly so, apparently.

    • Thanks. Interesting they said they had three quotes. If you would like to quote for this would you contact Sarah London, Director of Property for the Diocese of Canterbury. slondon@diocant,org

  2. As a former member of the Chartered Institute of Building, and without inspecting the wall, £40,000 to repair it seems a bit steep! It doesn’t appear to be a retaining wall, so no structural/support implications appear, so yes, it needs repointing, and a few loose bricks should be relaid, work that could be done by an odd job builder, over a few weeks costing probably in the region of about £4,000 to £5,000 as its mostly all labour, and few materials!

    • It looks to me as if it may be leaning over in places (though I might be mistaken), if so, it would be more expensive of course. Whatever, I agree that the church should repair it!

    • Having had my 1920s house repointed in its entirety a few years ago, I quite agree with your estimate of costs to repair this non load- bearing wall. I would love to know who provided the estimate and see their figures.
      As you say, it is nearly all labour and would take no more than a couple of weeks.

  3. Is the church listed? If so the wall may be curtilage listed and and change would require listed building consent. Talk to TDC planning department.

  4. The Cathedral is a money spinner so of course they would repair anything there. The wall is not so obviously they don’t care a fig about it. How do you think the church got to be so rich?

  5. So because a neighbour is perceived to be rich gives people the right to believe they can demand what they want from them?

    In this case it’s the churches boundary wall and their decision on how it is maintained, repaired or replaced. If it was a shared boundary wall you would be responsible for part of the cost and could potentially have a say/argument about it.

    If you suffer an injury or damage due to neglect you have a right to seek to claim compensation.

    You can not demand or get sniffy because you don’t like the look of the boundary you are not paying for if it meets planning/building/historic regs. They could replace it with a metal fence if they wanted or not have a boundary at all.

    If you want a pretty boundary build your own, on your property.

  6. The contractor is 1. Very much overpriced. 2. It is not true for the contractor to say if one part of the wall falls down the whole lot will fall. 3. If the wall was built by the church the church has a legal responsibility to maintain it. and / or replace it. We have a garden wall on two sides and back 275ft in total. We had it repointed by a builder on our side only
    Total cost was £2700 it took him best part of three weeks. We were advised that as the wall surrounding our garden was of shared benefit to us and our neighbours. It was the neighbours responsibility to maintain their half of the wall.

  7. Get an emergency restraining order and apply to get it grade 2 listed as it is an important feature of the historic churchyard.

  8. The church congregation ends up paying for repairs, it doesn’t come from Canterbury otherwise all the churches would look cared for if money was no problem. There are strange rules within the church. Each church has to pay it’s way, do it’s own repairs under very strict guidlines but still have the quota to send to Canterbury. It is about time the church of england changed it’s ways. If they want churches to survive they should make sure they are fit for use and have maintenance regularly. They should pay for this not the individual churches that cannot afford to pay Canterbury and pay for expensive repairs to their, sometime grade ll listed buildings. It becomes impossible, but there is no getting out of sending the quota onwards. This is okay on a new build that needs no maintenace but most of the churchs are getting old and need constant maintenance.
    This wall has no supporting pillars every few yards which makes it weak when in disrepair. The best and most economical option is to repoint it but get estimates from several contractors not just the one as mentioned. That looks rather steep. Having the wall repaired would be a much more economical expenditure as a fence is weak, rots and need replacing every so often costing much more in the long run. The decision to take this wall down and replace it with a fence is just madness and short-sighted. This is what happens when people are in office for just a short time. They have no care about the future as they will be gone. I would take your case right to the top if I were the neighbours.

  9. Having been in the trade for around 30 years. From what I can see, I would remove the top course or the “headers”, grind out the mortar (where needed as most has already come out), clean it all off, re-point the whole thing with lime mortar and re-lay the headers.
    For this I would charge between 8-10 grand max.
    So long as there’s no tree roots or anything upsetting the foundations and the foundations remain sound there is no need for that wall to have to come down. I little love and that wall could last another 100 years.
    They should seek other quotes/advice.

  10. If the church did pay £40,000 to rebuild the wall, I wonder if they would be accused of squandering money that could be used to support disadvantaged people. I think they’ll get criticised whatever they do! The couple are entitled to build a wall on their land if they choose, or maybe as it’s obviously important to them they could pay half the cost instead of stamping their feet

  11. H’mm. The wall belongs to the church. It’s on their land. Within the constraints of Planning regs and Building Control, they can do what they like with their wall on their land.
    If this couple are so keen that it should be kept, and the cost of having it fixed (according to the expert builers on here, then why don’t they offer to pay for it?

  12. The church like tdc/ekh, when they put jobs out to tender do so wanting to cover every possible angle and as such it tends to be bid for by larger more established companies with overheads to match. At around 50m long and say 1.5m high there is roughly 150m2 metres of repointing and repair. If done properly in lime the going rate is around 70/m2 for repointing plus the repairs, so the cost does seem high, but add in the wonders of vat and large companies overheads not hard to get to 40k.
    Would be nice for the church to look after the countries heritage but like tdc and many private individuals cash is the overriding concern.
    Ifthe householders in the article are so upset about it all perhaps they should make up the difference between the two options, they then get the wall they want and the church is not out of pocket.

  13. It would cost to demolish the wall, make good the ground, then replace it with a fence, which wouldn’t last as long as the wall has! No, it needs patch pointing, and loose bricks relaid, and a good Odd Job man would do this for probably around £4,000 to £5,000, so keep it.

  14. Can anybody please check my maths please.
    £40000 to repoint a wall 240 foot long. If a one man could repoint say 30 foot in one day, and both sides of the wall needs repointing making 480 foot of wall to repoint. Does it mean the job will take 16 days. At £2500 a day. If so where do I sign up. Or has the price of mortar gone up a lot since I did any pointing?

  15. Know way does it cost 40k to repoint that wall!! Someones on the scam! Shame on the diocese though for not keeping it in tact over the years and leaving it to decay like has!!! Maybe the 40k is so can have gold flakes in the lime mortar???

  16. The local church has neglected this wall which is their wall. If that church had kept it in good condition this problem wouldn’t have occurred. Unfortunately individual churches have little money now because of high payments to the Diocese so the local church needs to fund raise for this wall project. There maybe a bricklayer amongst the congregation. There are lots of Grants available which can be tapped into. Viridor for example and many others. No good fighting with the Diocese, it’s like getting blood out of a stone. They will always plead poverty.

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