Latest move on Mole Man’s dilapidated Hackney mansion

De Beauvoir residents have vowed to fight the latest application to demolish the dilapidated house of notorious “Mole Man” tunneller.

The plans to build two four-storey houses at the junction of Mortimer Road and Stamford Road were lodged by Andrew Fraser, who claims to be acting as administrator for the heirs of William Lyttle.

Eccentric oddball Lyttle gained worldwide fame after he spent 40 years digging a 60-foot network of tunnels beneath his �1 million house before he died last June, owing over �400,000 to the council, which saved the building from collapse.

Fraser’s application to demolish the house and build a block of eight flats was rejected by council planning officers last November, who said the demolition “would result in the loss of a building of local townscape merit, which is a heritage asset and makes a positive contribution to the special historic character of the De Beauvoir Conservation Area.”

Permission is not normally needed to demolish a building, but the conservation area is subject to an article 4 direction, meaning any alteration to a building must be approved by the council beforehand.

Stamford Road resident and ex-councillor Chris O’Leary, who chaired the planning committee for eight years, said he would fight the demolition.

“The new plans are an improvement on the previous hideous and oversized block of flats, but would still result in the loss of the existing building,” he said.

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“The houses are unique to the area, being the only example of double-fronted, back-to-back Victorian villas in De Beauvoir, and they are therefore a real piece of our cultural and architectural history - it will be a real pity to lose them and I don’t think the development has made the case for their demolition,” he added.

Mr Fraser - the owner of probate research specialists Fraser & Fraser, which features in the BBC TV series Heirhunters - said last November it would not be financially viable to renovate the house.

The public can comment on application 2011/1095 until June 13 at