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Rustic villa in Stonebridge earmarked for demolishing by Brent Council is ‘important heritage asset’ says internal report

PUBLISHED: 16:02 24 April 2020 | UPDATED: 09:16 28 April 2020

Campaigners outside Altamira in Stonebridge. Picture: Willesden Local History Society.

Campaigners outside Altamira in Stonebridge. Picture: Willesden Local History Society.

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Campaigners trying to save a listed 19th century villa in Stonebridge from demolition fear Brent’s own policy to protect heritage assets will not protect the building.

Altamira, in Morland Gardens, Stonebridge. Picture: Philip GrantAltamira, in Morland Gardens, Stonebridge. Picture: Philip Grant

Brent Council has put in an application to demolish Altamira, in Morlands Gardens, and build a nine-storey building with 65 council homes, a workspace and new education building.

A freedom of information request by historian Philip Grant has revealed that Brent’s principle heritage officer Mark Price believes that the Altamira should be “considered an important local heritage asset of high significance”. In a document he said a detailed analysis of the “asset and its setting” had not been provided by Brent’s planning consultants.

The listed Victorian villa on the corner of Hillside and Brentfield Road, has been a local landmark since 1876.

In 1995 an extension was added to provide an education centre by Chassay Architects but it did not “spoil the special integrity of the building”, according to the document.

Image of how 19th Century Altamira will look when it is demolished and replaced with a nine-storey building. Picture: Brent CouncilImage of how 19th Century Altamira will look when it is demolished and replaced with a nine-storey building. Picture: Brent Council

Brent Council said 93 per cent of people approved the plans following a consultation last year - where 150 people responded.

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However, a petition by Willesden Local History Society to ‘Save an historic Stonebridge landmark’ reached 330 signatures before it closed last month.

The number of people objecting to Brent’s planning application has risen to 47 with only one message of support.

Mr Grant, said: “The planning consultants, making the application on the council’s behalf, had claimed that this locally listed building had ‘minimal significance’, so that there was no reason why it shouldn’t be demolished. The evidence shows that their claim was false. The council’s own policy on heritage assets says that 1 Morland Gardens should not be demolished, but that does not mean that they won’t try to find a reason to justify going ahead with their plans. I hope that they will have more sense, and find a way to make better use of the site, while keeping the Victorian villa,”

Cllr Amer Agha, Brent Council’s lead member for schools, employment and skills, did not say why heritage analysis had not been submitted.

He said the consultation response was “very positive”, and that a project supporting community steering group has been established.

He added: “It will be for the planning committee to consider all aspects of the application put before them, taking into account the merits of the scheme, the feedback from the consultation, planning policy and law and the additional information detailing heritage considerations, in making their decision.”

The planning committee meeting scheduled for May 6 has been delayed.


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