1937: Greenside, Virginia Water, Surrey
Architect: Connell, Ward and Lucas
Location: Chestnut Avenue, Virginia Water, Surrey
“Greenside” was a fine example of an early flat-roofed modern movement house, by one of the most innovative firms of the decade. It was a Grade II listed building, but in 2003 its owner demolished it without consent. He subsequently argued that the Human Rights Act justified his action.
C20 Society had argued that the building could be restored, fought the owner at a public inquiry, and successfully called for his criminal prosecution. The Inspector upheld our case and the owner was convicted of a criminal offence. Although the fines levied against him were small in comparison to the potential value of a cleared site in such a prestigious location (immediately adjacent to the 17th green of the Wentworth Golf Course), the sentence was an important deterrent. Critically, the Inspector recognised that listed buildings controls are not a disproportionate burden on building owners, and so dismissed the Human Rights Act defence, which would have undermined conservation.
We have subsequently campaigned for more realist fines in such cases, and continue to support and publicise the growing number of examples of buildings where creature comforts and environmental performance have been upgraded effectively and sympathetically.
by Catherine Croft