The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Government announces Public Inquiry into demolition of C20th house

The C20 is delighted that The Secretary of State (ODPM) will hold a public inquiry into the case of GREENSIDE, the 1936 house on the edge of Wentworth Golf Course, Surrey, by architects Connell Ward and Lucas. The house was illegally demolished by its owner last November.

Runnymede Council had announced that they wanted to grant permission to let the building’s owner destroy this fine listed building (a great example of a pioneering modern movement house). They argued that not to do so would be an infringement of the owner’s rights under the Human Rights Act.

The C20 Society led the campaign to get the Secretary of State to intervene, and after extensive lobbying by individuals and conservation bodies he has agreed that a public inquiry should be held.

We are delighted that this will now happen. If the Runnymede decision had gone unchallenged then the whole of the listed building protection system would have been undermined. Planning Inquiries are only held in exceptional cases, and ones that raise broad issues of policy that are of national interest. It is great news that the Minister has accepted our arguments that the Greenside case merits a full public hearing.

We will also continue to press for the prosecution of Greenside’s owner, Mr Beadle, who is at present in South Africa . We understand that he will be interviewed under caution on his return and that criminal proceeding will follow.

C20 Society will appear at the Public Inquiry to argue that Greenside was an important listed building that could have continued to be an attractive family home. The local authority are in an embarrassing position in that all their planning officers involved in the case agreed with the conservation point of view that demolition was not acceptable. Their advice was overturned by council members (i.e. elected members of council serving on the planning committee). It remains to be seen whether these council members will be prepared to appear at the inquiry themselves to defend the councils action.

Catherine Croft
Director C20 Society

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