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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Lease Lend Cottage revisited

It's a strange question. Which is worse - the destruction caused by high explosive bombs dropped from German planes in the London Blitz of 1940-41, or the new vandalism of profi-hungry property developers in the syrupy postcodes of SW4 and Sw8?

Yes, we are back with my current favourite hyper-local topic - the demolition  of the former Lease Lend Cottage that existed almost in secret in Clapham, South London, from 1947 through to 2012.

To recap, a strange and rather wonderful old house with a beautiful, crazy garden, built entirely out of materials from  bombsites in the late 1940s, has just been destroyed.

According to local legend, it was built by a family who had survived the blitz,  on a plot of bomb-ruptured land between the remains of 70-76 The Chase, part of Hannington Road, and the flats on the corner of Macaulay Road.

A large part of this plot had been returned to chaos by German bombs that blasted some big old houses off the map of SW4 one night in 1940 or 41 (see the interactive Bomb Sights map of strikes on London, October 1940 - June 1941, - although I remember seeing a simpler print version of that map, which also covered the V1 and V2 strikes in the later years of the Second World War,  in the Croydon Advertiser, way, way back in the mid-1960s. Anyone else?)

Anyway, Lease Lend Cottage has gone. In its place - and now nearly finished - are four new houses crammed in to that space - and it's now clear that whoever buys into these rather dull-looking properties will have to be fond of the shade.

For a start, as we've seen, the houses are only two storeys (that must be thanks to initial opposition to the original submission?) and will get so little direct sunlight, surely they must be a health hazard. They are steeply overlooked by flats and houses on three sides, so privacy will have to be a closely-curtained matter. The amount of spcae around them for gardens, children's play area, etc, is very limited.

As also reported earlier, the new houses are built over a deep basement excavation, forming a lower-ground floor for bedrooms etc.

Agent Pendleton's has put the houses on the market already, with prices starting at £1,750,000 for the three-bed houses and £1,999,950 for the five-bedroom "end of terrace".

Finally,  a few days ago a hoarding went up outside advertising "four prestigious homes" in "Wardell Mews". Well, it ain't a mews and heaven knows where the rather posh-sounding Wardell comes from.  Still, it's probably just as well they didn't try to cash in on the historic name, as I feel some rather bad-tempered ghosts might start rattling their chains.

Historic Lease Lend cottage was destroyed to make way for these four little houses, Hannington Road, London SW4

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