Compulsory purchase warning to owner of ‘at risk’ listed building

Published: 27 January 2015

The council has given a property developer a two month deadline to carry out urgent repairs to a neglected historic building in Tooting or face losing it through a compulsory purchase order (CPO).

The owner of Gardener’s Lodge – a Grade II Listed building in Tooting Bec Road – has been given a deadline in mid-March to complete urgent repairs or the council will seek permission to use its CPO powers to protect and save the building

A listed buildings repairs notice was served on the owner earlier this month. It lists all the works that need to be carried out immediately if he wants to avoid further legal action.  

The notice requires him to carry out urgent repairs to the lodge’s windows, front door, external parapet and chimney, guttering, rendering, internal plasterwork, floorboards, roof and ceiling timbers, fireplaces and the perimeter railings that front Tooting Bec Road.

If these repairs are not properly completed, the council will apply to the Secretary of State for permission to compulsorily purchase the site.

The notice also warns him that if the minister is satisfied that the listed building has been deliberately allowed to fall into disrepair as a prelude to demolition and redevelopment, then only the minimum amount of compensation would be payable under the CPO’s terms.

The developer has owned the lodge for some years but done little with it. In 2012, he was granted planning permission to make changes to bring it back into use, but since then the early 19th century building has fallen into disrepair and the owner has ignored repeated requests from the council to take proper steps to halt its decline.

There is particular concern about its roof which is no longer waterproof. It has no front door and its window frames are decaying, internal plasterwork has been lost, its external stonework is in a poor state and wild vegetation is growing from its gutters and downpipes.

Floorboards and roof timbers have been lost or broken while the ceiling plasterwork is also in a poor state of repair.

A report to councillors last autumn warned: “The building is suffering from neglect and is falling into a state of disrepair to an extent that its special architectural and significance interest are under threat.”

Planning Committee chairman Cllr Sarah McDermott said: “The owner of this important local landmark should be under no illusion whatsoever about the council’s determination to safeguard this fine historic building.

“He must take immediate action to prevent it from sustaining any further deterioration and carry out full repairs to all its important architectural and historical features. He has two months to complete this important task and the clock is ticking.

“Gardener’s Lodge is a really important local building and plays a very prominent role in the story of Tooting.

“It was originally part of a much bigger horticultural estate and dates back to a time when the people who lived in this part of Tooting resided in a rural community. It is one of the only buildings still in existence that reminds us of the area’s long-lost agricultural past.

“As well as its historical significance it has fine architectural merit too and is an important surviving example of a late Georgian-era lodge building.

“The council has given the owner every opportunity to do what he needs to do to safeguard the building but he has failed to meet his responsibilities and instead this listed building has suffered further decay.

"Now we have told him that these urgent repairs must be completed by mid-March or he will face potentially costly and immediate legal action.”