Hackney Council stops demolition of Moleman's mansion
PUBLISHED: 13:03 30 September 2010
Workers told to down tools or face prosecution
Demolition workers were ordered to stop ripping down the former home of Hackney’s mole man by town hall planning chiefs this week, or risk facing prosecution.
The roof of the ramshackle £1 million home of eccentric William Lyttle, who gained worldwide fame for digging a network of tunnels under it, had already been removed by private contractors employed by a developer, despite it being in a conservation area with strict control on altering buildings.
But after they knocked down the top floor of the three-storey house in Mortimer Road, De Beauvoir, the council warned legal action would be taken if any more of it was demolished.
Mr Lyttle, a former electrical engineer spent 40 years digging the network of 60-foot tunnels. He died in June owing £400,000 to the council, which had saved the building from collapse.
A planning application submitted on September 15, by Andrew Fraser, who is acting as the administrator for Mr Lyttle’s relatives, to demolish the building and construct a four-storey block of eight two-bedroom flats, has yet to receive council approval.
According to a Hackney Council spokeswoman, a 2006 structural survey, which classified the building as a dangerous structure, allowed the “legal right” to carry out demolition work.
But the council would not allow the Gazette to see the 2006 document and confirmed Mr Fraser had not carried out a further structural survey before partly demolishing the building.
The spokeswoman added that the works had now been approved, but legal action would be taken if any more of the building is demolished.
Former Conservative councillor Chris O’Leary, who lives nearby in Stamford Road, and was chairman the planning committee accused Mr Fraser of ignoring the planning rules and slammed the council for failing to enforce them.
“What’s the point of having a conservation area, where if they paint a house the planning authorities take action, but if they demolish it, they do nothing?
“I don’t think a developer should benefit from basically ignoring the planning process. To ignore that process is like spitting in your face,” added Mr O’Leary.
Repeated attempts to contact Mr Fraser have been unsucessful.