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Demolition plans opposed for London’s largest private home

Plans to demolish the service wing of Witanhurst in Highgate, north London are being strongly opposed by The Victorian Society.

Witanhurst is a Grade II* building, a listing which also covers the service wing. According to Government planning guidelines such buildings can only be demolished under ‘wholly exceptional' circumstances, and demolition plans require the strongest justification.

The justification in this case is that the needs of the new owner's family can't be provided for in the current building. This is despite its 25 bedrooms, eight bathrooms, eight reception rooms, large hall and grand ballroom. Plans for the site drawn up by Robert Adam Architects also include an enormous basement housing a pool and car parking.

'We are delighted that Witanhurst is to be restored and returned to use as a family home, but very concerned about the needless destruction of an entire wing,' said Kristian Kaminski, Conservation Adviser for the Victorian Society. 'This house, which was built on the scale of a palace, is an integral part of London's heritage. Its service wing had an important function in the running of a large household in the early 20th century and such social history shouldn't be rubbed out.'

The Society believes the service wing is not beyond repair and could be adapted and restored as part of the family's plans for the house.

History

A house was built on the site in the early 18th Century, between 1881 and 1894 it was enlarged and named Parkfield. In 1913 it was bought by Arthur Crossfield and renamed Witanhurst. He commissioned designs by George Hubbard (1859 -1936) and the house as it appears today was largely built to those designs between 1913 and 1920.

As a London house Witanhurst is second only in size to Buckingham Palace, which is not a private home.

Wednesday 14 October, 2009

More recent item: At risk: one of Preston’s most important Victorian buildings
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