DEVELOPERS are accused of destroying the character of an 18th-century cottage in Harlington with building work that started without planning permission.
Builders began work on 1 Westfield Cottages, in Sipson Lane, Harlington, ahead of a planning application in October seeking permission to turn the barns at the back of the property into accommodation.
Hillingdon Council was alerted to the renovations, however, and the developers were ordered on October 21 to stop construction or face prosecution.
Paul Colham, from Yiewsley, said that the work already done was 'extreme', and out of keeping with the rest of the building.
"I regularly visit my girlfriend who lives nearby, and I have always loved those cottages.
"I became aware that developers had moved in and started work, and I just don't think that it should be allowed.
"They have already ripped apart the fabric of these historic buildings by creating new windows, and removing original features without permission and built extensions that do not match the cottage in any way. Everyone I have spoken to is gutted about it.
"These are wonderful old houses that illustrate Harlington's rural past, and they have gone in there and just taken a sledgehammer to it. The character of the cottages has been destroyed."
A plaque on the front of the cottages says that they were built in 1858, and their name derives from the farmland behind the property before the 1801 Inclosure Act, which cordoned off open fields and barred people from using the common land for agriculture.
1 Westfield Cottages was sold in March, and the smaller adjoining property is to be auctioned later this month.
Mr Colham, 37, added: "I really feel they should put it back the way it was. It is one of the last pieces of the borough's heritage, and buildings like this are important, and should be protected."
The cottage is owned by brothers Waseem and Saleem Raja, who run a dry-cleaning business in Colnbrook.
Mr Raja said: "The building is on the verge of collapse.
"The cement walls are very brittle, and it has been in a state of disrepair for some time - we just want to bring it back to life.
"We won't be changing it beyond all recognition, and nothing is being demolished. We aren't able to use old London bricks, but given time the new bricks will age and blend in with the area nicely."
An application to build a two-storey side extension was refused in August, because the planned works would not 'improve or compliment the character of the area'.
A similar application was made just two weeks later, on top of separate plans for the barns.
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