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Heritage features ‘destroyed’ during homes revamp on Neave Brown estate

Neave Brown-designed kitchen workstations sledgehammered

28 June, 2019 — By Tom Foot

The historic Alexandra & Ainsworth estate, also known as ‘Rowley Way’

HERITAGE features of homes in a protected housing estate have been destroyed during refurbishment works.

Workmen have taken sledgehammers to concrete and wooden structures in kitchens of the protected Alexandra and Ainsworth estate, also known as Rowley Way.

The building in Swiss Cottage – designed by RIBA Gold Medal winner Neave Brown – became in 1993 the first post-Second World War council estate to be listed.

Neave Brown

Residents say they were not properly informed about the extent of the works.

Andrea Butcher, who has lived there for 30 years, said: “These flats were listed for a reason and that means preserving their unique character wherever possible even if that is unpopular with some tenants.”

She said she was “shocked” that the council and contractor Mullaley had replacing historic features in the kitchens with “MDF and laminate cabinets”.

Ms Butcher’s listed kitchen, before and after 

The council says the “removal of heritage features” were approved under a Heritage Partnering Agreement it had agreed with contractors carrying out the “Decent Homes” refurbishment programme.

A spokesperson said: “The internal works currently being carried out on the Alexandra & Ainsworth estate were in accordance with a Heritage Partnering Agreement (HPA).

“The HPA allows the removal of certain heritage features in particular circumstances, depending on various factors including the number of original features present.”

They added: “Prior to work starting on residents homes contractors spoke with them to ensure they are aware of the changes being carried out and the different designs that are involved.

“We are always seeking to improve communications with residents and in the case of the resident whose kitchen appears in the photos, we have spoken with them and have come to what we hope is a happy solution.”

Mr Brown, who died aged 88 in January 2018, designed the brutalist estate that was built in 1968.

Mullaley has not responded to requests for comment.

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