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Last minute move to save historical house

PUBLISHED: 12:40 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:52 24 August 2010

A house where Winston Churchill made key wartime decisions and Mark Twain wrote fondly of north London has been granted a last chance stay of demolition. Up until last Thursday, a proposal to bulldoze Dollis Hill House, in Gladstone Park, was on the ag

A house where Winston Churchill made key wartime decisions and Mark Twain wrote fondly of north London has been granted a 'last chance' stay of demolition.

Up until last Thursday, a proposal to bulldoze Dollis Hill House, in Gladstone Park, was on the agenda of a Brent Council planning meeting scheduled for this week.

But the council removed it from the agenda the next day in order to give care providers the Chinese Welfare Trust more time to set out their plans for the site.

Gill Martin, chairwoman of the Dollis Hill House Trust, which has campaigned to save the historic building, said the council's last-minute reprieve was 'brilliant.'

She said: "We're very pleased that the council has taken the correct decision. Planners know that if there is any other viable proposal they will not be able to knock it down."

But she criticised the council for taking an all-or-nothing approach, suggesting that a bid need not necessarily aim to restore the entire house but only a part of it.

She said: "The council is wasting time and money when it could be working with English Heritage on finding a radical solution."

As recently as January 25, the council's consultants defended the bulldozing plans in a letter to English Heritage, which has argued against demolition.

English Heritage Historic Buildings and Areas Adviser, Richard Parish said the decision to delay was 'useful,' adding: "It gives us more time to respond."

Brent Labour said they believed the delay was politically motivated.

Labour leader, Cllr Ann John, said: "I suspect this suits the Lib Dem administration who will wish to defer demolition until after the local elections."

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone originally pledged millions in funding to save the house but the promise was dropped by his successor Boris Johnson.

Council leader, Cllr Paul Lorber said that in the absence of a viable developer, Dollis Hill House was costing taxpayers thousands of pounds a year to keep safe.

He added: "The Chinese Welfare Trust first contacted the council months ago, since then they have cancelled meetings we have tried to arrange.

"We have postponed the planning application in order to give them a last chance to confirm details of their proposals, sources of funding and the implications for the park of their plans.


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