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Hartlepool’s Tunstall Court threatened with complete demolition

Years of neglect have allowed this handsome and important building to be vandalised

Copyright: Richard Walker - Life Is Beautiful

Tunstall Court, one of the most important great villas built by Hartlepool's late Victorian industrialists (and one of only two to survive) is threatened with demolition and replacement with ‘executive housing.'

Designed by architect T. Lewis Banks and built in 1894-5, Tunstall Court is a large and impressive villa in West Park and was home to shipbuilder and MP Christopher Furness. The grandness of its proportions and the building's fine exterior and exquisitely detailed interior are testament to the wealth and prestige enjoyed by its owner. Tunstall Court was transferred to Hartlepool Borough Council for educational use in 1948. The Council sold it in 2005.

The last 15 years have seen its gradual decline, exacerbated more recently by vandalism and repeated arson attacks. After several planning consents which were not carried through, the owners have now applied to demolish the whole building and build homes on and around the site of Tunstall Court.

The Victorian Society urges Hartlepool Borough Council to refuse consent for the demolition of the building. Despite being one of the most important buildings in Hartlepool's Park Conservation Area, the owners argue, but have failed to demonstrate, that the site could not be redeveloped whilst restoring Tunstall Court.

James Hughes, Conservation Adviser at the Victorian Society commented:

"Demolition of Tunstall Court would be a great loss to the character of the conservation area and to Hartlepool's wider architectural heritage. The poor condition of an important building - whether due to neglect or a failure to secure it against vandalism and arson - should not be used as justification for demolition. We understand local frustration at the building's worsening condition, but urge restoration and sensitive development in its grounds as the solution, not demolition.

It is important that Hartlepool Borough Council rejects this proposal to avoid setting a precedent by, in effect, rewarding developers of important buildings for neglecting them and allowing them to deteriorate to such a degree. This is vital if Hartlepool's architectural heritage is to survive."

Tuesday 25 March, 2014

More recent item: Buccleuch Hotel in Kettering threatened with demolition
Earlier item: Cardiff Council threatens to demolish part of Coal Exchange

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