A HISTORIAN has raised concerns about work to put right unauthorised building work at Sir Walter Raleigh's Grade II-listed birthplace, but criticised certain aspects.
East Devon District Council first received a complaint in early 2010 about the works at the Elizabethan explorer's former home, Hayes Barton near Budleigh Salterton, which could have occurred as long ago as 2004.
The work was carried out by the Down family who have been the tenants of the Clinton Devon Estates-owned property for more than 100 years.
The first application for permission to work on the listed building was submitted in 2011.
It was subsequently withdrawn on the advice of a principal conservation officer for the head of economy at the council, because it did not cover all the work that had taken place.
Clinton Devon Estates confirmed it was aware repair work to plaster damaged by water had been carried out, but did not think listed building consent was required because the work involved like-for-like repairs.
However Simon Ramsden, Devon and Cornwall's team leader at English Heritage, was not satisfied with the architect's report that detailed the history of the property and the extensive work that was required to put things right and a 37-page report was resubmitted.
English Heritage advised the council that if any works proved to be unacceptable it should consider enforcement action.
Recommendations accepted by the applicant included removing "inappropriate" plaster board and gypsum plaster covering the walls and reinstating the lath and plaster, and the reinstatement of a historic door between the dining and sitting rooms after it was removed "unjustifiably".
The replacement of the kitchen floor by the applicants was also noted as being of "great concern, from a technical, visual and evidential perspective".
Lino, asphalt and clay tiles were removed by the applicant and the earth floor excavated before the new floor, including under-floor heating, was constructed. Blue Lias flagstones that were uncovered were left in place "undisturbed" according to the architect's report.
The applicant also agreed to recover a window that is thought to have been originally blocked up at some time between the 17th and 19th centuries, when the window tax was introduced.
Work has finally been completed about three years after the original complaint.
Historian and East Budleigh resident Kathy Moyle has welcomed the completion of the work but has expressed her upset at the "modern" kitchen flooring.
"This is one of East Devon's greatest listed buildings and this has been a continual battle," she said.
"We should be grateful that work has been done to rectify what was done, but I don't think the council acted properly to look after this listed building given the time it has taken.
"When I saw the photo of the floor I was shocked," she added. "It still looks like a modern floor. I thought the council should have been much stricter.
"It's a great shame that the council didn't request more traditional materials."
Mr Down did not want to comment on the matter, only confirming that he had been working with the council to resolve the issue.