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Plaque controversy at historic Grouville fountain

Plaque controversy at historic Grouville fountain

Friday 03 March 2023

Plaque controversy at historic Grouville fountain

Friday 03 March 2023


The Parish of Grouville has "fallen afoul" of planning law after deciding to put up a plaque on a historic fountain without seeking permission.

In the summer of 2022, the Parish of Grouville decided to place a Granite plaque on the La Fontaine Des Cabot to commemorate the Parish taking official ownership of the fountain.

According to Connétable Mark Labey, it is the only drinking fountain in Grouville still in working order and was installed by General Don in the 19th century to water the horses being used to build the nearby La Rue à Don. 

The Parish has been attending to the fountain since at least 1968, but its exact ownership was the subject of a long running legal debate. 

However, on 24 June 2022, then-Connétable John Le Maistre  presented to the Royal Court an affidavit summarising the history of the fountain and on 8 July 2022, the fountain was officially granted to the Parish. 

The plaque was placed on the fountain in commemoration and was unveiled by the Bailiff Sir Timothy Le Cocq on 17 August 2022. 

Plaque.jpg

Pictured: The inscription of the plaque on the Fontaine Des Cabot.

The Parish hoped that the plaque "provided the fountain with a much needed identity and significantly enhances the beauty of the site." 

However, planning permission was not sought, much to the ire of the planning department, and the Parish decided to put in a retrospective planning application.

Unfortunately, this was refused. 

Fountain_photo.jpg

Pictured: A photo of the Fontaine Des Cabot provided by the Parish of Grouville.

Connétable Mark Labey, who is currently handing the fallout from his predecessor's actions, said: "As Connétable, I have to make reparations for the mistakes of my predecessor. We put up a, what I thought, was a lovely granite plaque to commemorate this coming into our properties. Sadly we have fallen afoul of the planning law." 

Following a consultation with the Historic Environment Team, the plaque was deemed to have had a detrimental impact on the significance of the historic structure.

Specifically, the Historic Environment Team noted: "The addition of the plaque records the new owner, but not the historic nature of the fountain."

They also said the plaque was "too large" and "visually intrusive", adding that they would have sought to relocate the plaque if they had been consulted. 

Connétable Mark Labey added: "We did get into trouble and had our knuckles wrapped. It's certainly our fault. It may have been nicer if we would have put up one of those small grey plaques they put up to commemorate historic buildings." 

Piquet House plaque.jpeg

 Pictured: "It may have been nicer if we would have put up one of those small grey plaques they put up to commemorate historic buildings." 

However, while it has been declared to be an "illegally placed granite plaque" by planning, the Historic Environment Team also added that removal of the plaque could be "highly damaging." As such, they are not seeking to remove the plaque. 

Connétable Mark Labey added that the fountain is in need of serious restorative work: "We are worried about it's future as it's leaning backwards, we may have to deconstruct it and then reconstruct it again." 

It is therefore possible that the plaque could be removed during this restorative process.

"We are being instructed by planning as to what to do," the Connétable said. "It is a little bit tricky, but our overarching aim to to make the fountain glorious for years to come."

Pictured top: The plaque on the Fontaine Des Cabot. 

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Posted by Scott Mills on
And in the real world, people are just about affording to heat their homes and eat.
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