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Council 'goes soft' on Goldfinger destroyer

Wandsworth Council has backtracked in its pursuit of a developer who illegally demolished part of a listed Erno Goldfinger-designed school

In December 2008, the London authority managed to secure a ground-breaking High Court order against Rajiv Laxman to start rebuilding the Grade-II Listed former caretaker’s cottage at Brandlehow School in Putney by March 1, 2009.

The full reconstruction had to be completed by the end of November last year (2009) or Laxman could have been found guilty of contempt and potentially risk a jail sentence, fines and the seizure of his company’s assets. The business man had already been fined twice for ignoring the Council’s calls to rebuild the cottage (Developer ordered to ‘rebuild’ razed Goldfinger building), which he flattened in 2007.

However, the Council appears not to have followed through on its promise saying it was instead in discussions with Laxman about a ‘revised scheme for this site, that would involve the reconstruction and reinstatement of the listed building’ and that talks were underway with English Heritage about whether the scheme was ‘viable’.

Meanwhile it is understood the building remains in rubble.

A disappointed spokesman for the Twentieth Century Society said: ‘Above anything else, we wish to see the rebuilding of the unlawfully demolished caretaker’s cottage at Brandlehow School.

‘The council has been robust in its actions so far and we very much hope that it remains committed to having the building put back. Laxman has consistently shown his blatant disregard for the planning system and the fines so far levied against him seem to have done little to motivate him, if he is not capable of organising the rebuilding of the cottage, he must surely now pay for someone else to do it.

‘If Wandsworth were to back down at this stage, it would send a clear message to developers that the only price to pay for the demolition of a listed building was £24,000 in fines.’

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