Now this iconic house front really is history

NEIGHBOURS of a Victorian house in Hampstead are demanding developers replace its facade brick-for-brick after it collapsed last week

Marc Mullen

NEIGHBOURS of a Victorian house in Hampstead are demanding developers replace its facade brick-for-brick after it collapsed last week.

Builders have been working on three houses on Fitzjohn's Avenue since January and had demolished everything apart from the front walls. These had to be kept as part of the planning consent.

But on February 13, one of the red brick frontages collapsed as the hapless workmen looked on.

Now residents want the council to ensure the developer does not use the problem as an excuse to pull down the facades and replace them with a pastiche.

Fitzjohn's Avenue resident John Weston, from the Heath and Hampstead Society, said: "I certainly hope they make them rebuild it. If it was all to collapse, they should definitely make them put it back.

Most Read

"Although there are a few bombsite gaps on Fitzjohn's Avenue, overall there is some pretty interesting architecture.

"This house is at the bottom of what is the entrance to Hampstead with its plane trees, which the council screwed up a couple of years ago when they chopped them down. We don't want them to screw this up too.

"It would be a disaster for us - but convenient for the developers. It's like the developer's old trick of leaving the roof off and letting a property decay so they get their own way."

Mayfair Property Developers is behind the project, which will see the demolition of the three houses formerly used as a hostel. Behind the original facades, which date back more than 120 years, Mayfair is building a block of 22 flats with underground parking for 21 cars.

The plans were first approved in 2001 and in 2006 Mayfair agreed to include affordable housing as part of the deal. This will be provided in a house further up Fitzjohn's Avenue, previously a hostel for single women and more latterly a squat.

Farokh Khorooshi, chairman of Fitzjohn's Residents Association, said: "If they have to allow it to fall down and then try to build a pastiche of what was there, then that is not acceptable.

"It seems like negligence. They haven't done the job properly. I was talking to a local architect, who said this was pretty typical."

One of the houses being worked on used to belong to renowned portrait painter Philip de Laszlo.

Mayfair and its agent Montagu Evans were unavailable for comment.

Their architect, Spence Harris Hogan (SHH), said they were only employed to get the planning application through.

Guy Mathesson, from SHH, said: "It's a real shame. I hope they bring it back to its former glory."

A council spokeswoman said: "We were called out to investigate 7 Fitzjohn's Avenue after the developer's breached planning control causing a facade to fall down. A facade retention is now in place - a metal frame to protect the facade - but it will have to be demolished.

"7 Fitzjohn's Avenue is a building that makes a contribution to the conservation and the council will require the developer to reinstate the facade as it was or to propose an enhanced design."