AN OPEN-AIR community space to replace Dollis Hill House has been met with disapproval by those who campaigned to save the listed building.
Brent Council has revealed an artists' impression of the venue to replace the 19th Century former haunt of Prime Minister William Gladstone and author Mark Twain, which is being demolished following approval by Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government.
English Heritage has approved the plans for the garden-style tribute in Gladstone Park that includes a memorial to the house and a performance space for community use, on a historical backdrop to include reclaimed brick work and a window from the delapidated building.
The project is being billed as a 'lasting legacy' by the council, but campaigners said they are sunhappy with the outcome.
Martin Redston, of the Dollis Hill House Trust which campaigned for the building to be restored as an arts centre and cafe, said he spoke both as a member of the trust a taxpaying Brent resident when he told The Observer: "I deplore the fact that they are demolishing it.
"I regret that they did not seem to work with the community on this, and I am appalled that they do not see a need for an arts community centre in the south of the borough."
Trustee Patricia French, who started campaigning to save Dollis Hill House in the 1980s, said: "It's not necessary to have another garden, we already have one nearby (the walled garden).
"I am writing to people to try and get more support and I would urge readers to write to the council to show their feelings on this."
The house was closed in 1994, and has since been subjected to four arson attacks. The council said it tried unsuccessfully to secure a viable future for the house and it was 'costly to maintain'.
Brent Council lead member for environment and neighbourhood services, James Powney said: "We have always been mindful of Dollis Hill House's history and I am happy there will be a lasting legacy to honour it. Currently the building is unsightly and costly to maintain.
"Next spring, for the first time in nearly two decades the site will once again be available for public use."
The demolition, which started last week, is expected to be complete by the end of January.
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