Son of shopping centre millionaire fined £40k after stripping Ripon Regency home of its historic features

Darlington and Stockton Times: Copt Hewick Hall Copt Hewick Hall

THE son of one of Britain's richest men has a criminal conviction and was fined £40,000 after stripping a listed country mansion of its historic assets - without permission - so his mother could move in sooner.

Richard Sykes carried out extensive works to a Regency property in Copt Hewick, near Ripon, magistrates in Harrogate were told.

He bought the property, which boasts eight double bedrooms and is valued at £4.5m, for his mother, Valeria in December 2011.

Mrs Sykes' 44-year marriage to UKIP'S principal European elections donor, property tycoon and Sheffield Meadowhall creator Paul Sykes - whose fortune was once estimated to be £650m - had broken down months earlier.

Weeks after he bought the property his father was quoted as saying: "‘I would sooner have stayed a tyre-fitter, where I started. Money just brings a load of lumber."

John Hunter, prosecuting, said Richard Sykes, 49, launched into a wide-ranging overhaul of the historically important property - which was built in 1775 and features an tree-lined drive, orangery, children's sitting room, coach house, swimming pool, gymnasium and Mediterranean entertaining courtyard.

Before the sale, estate agents Blenkin and Co described its period features as having been  "painstakingly preserved", adding: "No detail has escaped the current owners’ meticulous programme of works."

When a Harroagte Borough Council officer visited two weeks after the sale, he was stunned to find substantial changes - including the removal of decorative mouldings, doors, window shutters, floors and ceilings.

Mr Hunter said the works resulted in a substantial change in the building's historic significance.

He added that, despite repeated warnings to stop the alterations, Richard Sykes continued his programme of works for 18 months.

Chartered surveyor Sykes, his Thirsk-based firm West Park Services, and builder Nicholas Hull, 48, of Harrogate, and his firm Thermotech, all admitted breaching the Listed Buildings and Conservation Act.

Paul Greaney QC, mitigating, said the house had not been perfectly preserved and Mrs Sykes had even found some MDF doors after moving in.

He said Richard Sykes had not been "cocking a snook" at the council, and despite period features such as the floating bubble glass windows being lost forever after they were replaced with modern flat glass for clearer views, the property had been improved.

"It is not a building of the highest significance like Castle Howard," he added.

"The drive of the defendant was to return the hall to its former glory, certainly not to turn it into some sort of Premiership footballer's pad.

"No expense has been spared to bring that dream into reality."

Magistrate Alison Stockdale said Richard Sykes, of Asenby, near Thirsk, had shown an increasingly flagrant disregard for the law and fined him £26,010, his firm £14,010, and order him and his firm to pay £26,000 costs.

Hull and his firm were fined £8,660 and ordered to pay £10,000 costs.

Comments (4)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

2:05am Wed 30 Apr 14

Voice-of-reality says...

Savagery of the worst possible type. I do hope that further court orders will be made to return what can be to its 'original' state and that in the interests of mitigating against further cultural vandalism that the property will be 'taken into care'.
Savagery of the worst possible type. I do hope that further court orders will be made to return what can be to its 'original' state and that in the interests of mitigating against further cultural vandalism that the property will be 'taken into care'. Voice-of-reality
  • Score: 6

5:22am Wed 30 Apr 14

SirLance says...

Peanuts to this guy ! Do what you want and it will cost you about 40 - 50 K in fines ! ha ha then you have it as you wanted ! Screw the public, screw the poor onlookers! Greed hast no bounds!
Peanuts to this guy ! Do what you want and it will cost you about 40 - 50 K in fines ! ha ha then you have it as you wanted ! Screw the public, screw the poor onlookers! Greed hast no bounds! SirLance
  • Score: 4

9:54am Wed 30 Apr 14

reasoned view says...

Good to see he replaced the original features with MDF.
Tacky, just like the wealthy chav he is
Good to see he replaced the original features with MDF. Tacky, just like the wealthy chav he is reasoned view
  • Score: 2

3:43pm Wed 30 Apr 14

MartinMo says...

In his defence, he bought the property, why should he not decorate as he sees fit, we all decorate and change our properties.

He should never have been sold the property if these so called historical groups.

I am sure some of these castle estate which are still used for residential purposes have gone through some major refurbishments throughout the decades.
In his defence, he bought the property, why should he not decorate as he sees fit, we all decorate and change our properties. He should never have been sold the property if these so called historical groups. I am sure some of these castle estate which are still used for residential purposes have gone through some major refurbishments throughout the decades. MartinMo
  • Score: -4

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree