Secretary of State clears the way for Dollis Hill House demolition

Supporters of the former stately home have hit out at the decision

An historic house which played host to American author Mark Twain is set to be knocked down after the Secretary of State for Local Government Eris Pickles approved demolition plans.

Supporters of Dollis Hill House, in Gladstone Park, Dollis Hill, received the news last week, but have vowed to continue their struggle to protect the listed building.

Gill Close, Dollis Hill House Trust chair, said: “This is an appalling decision which is absolutely gutting – but it is not the final nail in the coffin.

“This gives the council the opportunity to demolish it, but that doesn’t mean it has funds to do it.”

Ms Close revealed the trust is in talks with potential partners interested in taking over the former stately home, and that the Royal Institute of British Architects wanted to run a competition for ideas to save the house.

“The council should have taken these approaches and marketed it better”, she said. “Instead, the council assumes it should rush ahead and knock it down.

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“If it can be brought back to life it would give a real vibrancy to the park and draw people here. We haven’t got a main shopping centre or anything like that – Dollis Hill House is the heart of our community.”

The Secretary of State’s decision comes after Brent Council voted through plans to demolish it last summer.

Martin Redstone, of the Dollis Hill House Trust, said he hoped that if the demolition does go ahead, it will be done sensitively so that much of the original brick work is maintained as a monument to the house.

He said: “We want to keep our heritage in such a way as to keep the possibility of allowing community facilities to rise from the ashes of the building.”

A Brent Council spokesman confirmed he had received a letter. He added: “However no discussions have taken place regarding the timescale for this.”