Monday, 5 September 2011

Neglecting Our Heritage

Another winter of neglect awaits a grade two listed building in Hedge End.  Delapidated and vandalised in the ten years it has been unoccupied, one of Hedge End's few historic buildings looks destined to wait even longer for renovation.  There is no sign that the Dowd's Farm developers are going to start plans to renovate and restore the fabric of the old farmhouse  and there must be a risk that it will continue to deteriorate until demolition is the only economic option.  A report to Council in April this year estimated that it would already cost £1 million to restore the farmhouse.  Another winter with rain and snow driving into the clearly visible exposed holes in the brickwork is only going to increase the bill.
The farmhouse dates back to the 17th century with Victorian extensions and historically interesting internal features including a bread oven and floor to ceiling sash windows.  But more importantly it is a material reminder of Hedge End's agricultural history.  If it goes, only the name of the housing estate and urban park will recall that there once was a farm on this land. 
Back in the Spring, the outlook for this threatened building was more optimistic.  Lib Dem councillors approved planning applications for an additional 30 flats at Dowd's Farm so that the developers could raise more money to fund the renovation and for a change of use for the farmhouse itself.  In April we were told that the Council was in discussions with a company which wanted to renovate the building and run it as a day nursery and that a detailed planning application would be presented in May.
Since then silence.  No planning application was on the agenda of the June  Local Area Committee, and the Lib Dems have now decided to cancel the meeting due on September 5th.  So nothing is going to happen now until November at the earliest.

1 comment:

  1. How can it possibly cost £1 million to restore an old house...? That sounds like a figure plucked out of the air at random, to me. Plucked by somebody who would prefer to demolish it and build another set of flats there...