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Campaigners against planned demolition of Altamira villa in Stonebridge condemns new heritage document

PUBLISHED: 11:55 25 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:28 25 June 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 desperately trying to save a 19th century rustic villa in Stonebridge have slammed the council’s new heritage documents.

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 plans to demolish Altamira, 1 Morland Garden and replace it with 65 homes and an education centre.

A fresh consultation on new documents has started and will end on July 15.

The council commissioned a heritage review by Lichfields because it wanted an “impartial view” but campaigners argue it “misrepresents the facts”.

The Heritage Impact Assessment says the Victorian villa is of “low significance as it is of low historical and architectural importance and of local interest only.”

Altamira, a listed landmark villa in Stonebridge earnarked by Brent Council to be demolished. Picture: Willesden Local History Society.Altamira, a listed landmark villa in Stonebridge earnarked by Brent Council to be demolished. Picture: Willesden Local History Society.

Philip Grant, of the Willesden Local History Society, said: “Lichfields completed its document by undertaking ‘desk-based study and archival research’.

“They only looked at a limited number of documents, and did not come to look at the building, its setting or the surrounding area.

“Despite the limited material available to them, they reached the conclusion that the building is of low significance.

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“The historical society does not agree with this and nor does it agree with two statements on Lichfield’s plans.”

The report says Altamira is “not a rare survival, is of “low importance” and “ a fragment of late 19th century development of which much of the remainder has been lost and is in any event a frequent occurrence across Brent.”

Mr Grant said: “WLHS does not accept that conclusion, as it is based on what it considers to be a misrepresentation of the facts.”

Cllr Ketan Sheth, Toykynton representative, said: “1 Morland Gardens is a fine example of 19th century rustic villa in the Italianate style construction dating back to 1876.

“As a child growing up in Harlesden, I much admired this beautiful building and still do today. It would be sad to lose it.”

Lichfield said they provided a “robust” assessment and that government covid rules had prevented a site visit.

A spokesperson added: “A detailed building recording has been undertaken by Compass Archaeology in their Historic Building Assessment that was submitted with the planning application. It demonstrates that the many incremental internal and external changes to 1 Morland Gardens have eroded the historical significance of the building, which is reflected in the non-statutory listing.”

A Brent Council spokesperson said: “As with all planning applications, we always welcome and actively encourage comments on proposals, which are taken into account when a decision is a made.”


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