A PERFORMANCE space on the site of a former historic house has been officially opened.
Dollis Hill House, the 19th century former haunt of Prime Minister William Gladstone and author Mark Twain in Gladstone Park, Dollis Hill, was demolished last year, despite opposition from locals.
English Heritage approved plans for a garden-style tribute to the original building, and a performance space for community use was opened in the garden by the Mayor of Brent, councillor Bobby Thomas.
The performance space occupies the same footprint as the original house and uses reclaimed bricks from the house. It is an open air venue with uplighters, power supply, seating and greenery.
Mr Thomas, said: “I am proud to open a unique performance space for the borough and for the residents of Brent, which is a lasting legacy of this historical site.”
Since its closure in 1994, the house had been subjected to four arson attacks, which destroyed its roof, most of the internal features of the first-floor, and the staircase.
The council said it tried unsuccessfully to secure a viable future for the house, but it was ‘costly to maintain’. The decision for the demolition was approved by the secretary of state for communities and local government, Eric Pickles in spring 2011.
The Dollis Hill House Trust spent many years fighting for the future of the house and wanted the building to be restored as an arts centre and cafe. The trust did not support the plans for a garden.
Speaking about the new open air performance space, treasurer of Dollis Hill House Trust, Martin Redston, said: “I think it is ridiculous – it’s vandalism, complete vandalism. I haven’t been there since the house was demolished and I won’t be going back until there is a proper art space with a roof, like we had hoped for.
“The house should be there, the whole thing is a kick in the teeth. Brent Council just did what they want, to demolish it, and now to make money they are opening an open air space. The council did not work with the community on this at all.”
The Observer contacted the council for a comment but there was no response before the paper went to press.
The new space was opened on Sunday, June 30, and had its first performance by St Michael and All Angels Steel Band, a voluntary Brent youth project group which provides opportunities for young people to express themselves through music.
n What do you think of the new space? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.