The developer who illegally demolished part of a listed Erno Goldfinger-designed school must rebuild it or face a prison sentence
Rajiv Laxman, sole director of Abrus Ltd, was ordered by a High Court judge on 12 December that he must start to rebuild the Grade II Listed former caretaker’s cottage at Brandlehow School in Putney no later than March 1 2009.
The rebuilding, which includes the construction of a new property alongside the cottage, must be completed by the end of November.
If Laxman does not meet these two deadlines, he could be found guilty of contempt and would risk a jail sentence, fines and the seizure of his company’s assets.
Wandsworth council’s planning spokesman Councillor Leslie McDonnell said: ‘Laxman is drinking in the last chance saloon when it comes to getting on with the task of rebuilding this important listed building.
‘My advice to Laxman is to get on with the job otherwise he will face the possibility of losing significant sums of money and quite possibly his liberty.’
Jon Wright of the Twentieth Century Society said they were ‘very, very pleased’ with the council’s actions.
‘They have sent a message out that you simply cannot get away with it. The previous fines have not scratched him but [with this judgement] it must be starting to register’.
Wright did however offer a glimmer of hope for the beleaguered developer saying that he would like Laxman ‘brought in from the cold’.
‘Part of the problem I suspect is that he knows he has done wrong but probably has no idea how to [exactly rebuild the demolished block].
‘If so it would be better to start a dialogue with him and see how we can help,’ he added.
The saga began in November last year when Wandsworth council prosecuted Laxman for knocking down the cottage, despite having been refused planning permission.
He paid £11,000 in fines and costs and was order to rebuild the cottage (Developer ordered to ‘rebuild’ razed Goldfinger building).
In March this year Laxman had to cough up a further £13,000 (£6,200 fine and £6,800 costs) after failing to comply with the council’s orders.