Fitzjohn facades did not have to fall down’
PUBLISHED: 15:56 27 March 2008 | UPDATED: 14:53 07 September 2010
A SPECIALIST civil engineering photographer warned Camden Council five months ago that the facades of Victorian houses in Hampstead were at risk of collapse. The two house fronts on Fitzjohn s Avenue collapsed last month as Mayfair Property De
A SPECIALIST civil engineering photographer warned Camden Council five months ago that the facades of Victorian houses in Hampstead were at risk of collapse.
The two house fronts on Fitzjohn's Avenue collapsed last month as Mayfair Property Developers worked on the site.
Conrad Blakemore, who worked as a professional photographer specialising in structural surveys for partial demolition projects, warned the council the facades were at risk of collapse last November.
Mr Blakemore, who lives on Fitzjohn's Avenue, said: "I rang Camden's planning duty officer back in November and she assured me that the facades were to be kept to a depth of one room deep and they would be keeping an eye on the work.
"I was alarmed to see how much was actually being demolished.
"If the developer really wanted to keep the facades they should have put the supporting steel work up before the demolition. Here, they did it the wrong way round. Obviously it is not going to be in a stable condition.
"The council complain if you put a conservatory up, but where was the building control department when all this was going on?"
Many residents have already contacted the council, furious that the buildings they say mark the gateway to Hampstead have been allowed to collapse.
The Victorian Society, which campaigns for the preservation of Victorian and Edwardian buildings across the UK, has also spoken out against the quality of the work.
A society spokeswoman said: "The collapse of the facades on Fitzjohn's Avenue is unacceptable. The developer must be required to rebuild them according to the original design.
"The facades make a contribution to the historic character of the area, as Camden Council recognised when they stipulated that they should be retained as part of the new development.
"We see no reason why they shouldn't be rebuilt with as much of the original material as possible."
Mr Blakemore said: "I have lived hear 46 years, all my life, and I am just gob-smacked that in this day and age, when we are all trying to protect buildings, this can be allowed to happen."
Mayfair Property Developers, which is building flats on the site, were unavailable for comment.
The council has so far only requested that Mayfair rebuild the facades "as close as possible to the originals."
Gordon Maclean, chairman of the town sub-committee of the Heath and Hampstead Society, said: "We have written to Camden Council demanding that they take enforcement action. They need to rebuild both facades brick by brick."
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