A follow-up to Mark Westcott’s alert to the appalling vandalism carried out by Crest Nicholson of Brightwell House is vital.
Others need to stick their heads above the parapet and shout loudly.
Where was Waverley’s conservation officer?
Could it have been ‘carelessness’?
Where is any other official condemnation of this destruction?
Perhaps marvellous local bodies like The Farnham Society and the Farnham Building Preservation Trust are already on the case. I do hope so.
The destruction of a listed building is part of a wider malaise. Systems set up to safeguard buildings and people have been disbanded. Across the country developers know they can get away with whatever they wish without retribution.
They know councils are cash strapped and short of labour, they don’t have the money or trained employees to implement the law and prosecute when a crime – for that’s what it is – is perpetrated.
Written into every developer’s contract should be a percentage of their profits towards a ‘protest fund’ or ‘developers’ tax’ to be used for legitimate claims when a company ignores their obligations under the law.
The reverberations from the Grenfell Tower scandal have still not been settled as responsibility is juggled from one organisation to another.
Individuals or development companies who are originally involved in a build should be held responsible for their actions and not be able to sell on responsibility with the company.
To move even further afield, the collapse of buildings in the devastating Turkish/Syrian earthquake is already being blamed on shoddy work and lack of safeguards in a region renowned as a high-risk zone.
What has this to do with the destruction of a listed building in a small town in a mainly prosperous part of England that bears absolutely no comparison to the scale of the humanitarian disaster unfolding in that region?
It shows lack of stringent regulation, and it resonates.
As contributors to the general pot through taxes of every type, we expect those who are paid to do their jobs via this system will do so on our behalf. It’s a very shocking and bewildering world now this is no longer happening.
As a very small aside, Farnham has World Craft Town status. Surely we should be acknowledging and celebrating the craft of the past?
The skill of the joiner who would have made all the sash windows and shutters for Brightwell House with hand tools; the builder who had the skills to manipulate and cut bricks to fit the angles of the frontage; the glazier working with lime putty to make a waterproof window join; the plasterers and painters who all learnt their trade by ‘doing’.
Crest Nicholson could be making capital out of this heritage. It’s tragic that yet again an opportunity is lost.
River Row Cottages, Farnham