Sanitary items form intrinsic part of listed former family house

Listed building consent was denied for the internal refurbishment of the former family home of the Debenham dynasty, the founders of the chain of department stores, an inspector deciding that the works would undermine the grade I listed building sited within a west London conservation area.

The property had been built in the early 1900s and was almost a complete survival of the arts and crafts movement with many original fixtures and fittings and embodied the latest trends in hygiene and planning including conveniently located cloakrooms and en-suite bathrooms. The appellants wished to replace various sanitary ware items with new replicas including the use of low level rather than high level cisterns serving the various water closets.

The inspector decided that the high level cisterns and pipework were characteristic features of the three rooms where the works were proposed and introducing low level replicas would seriously damage the integrity and importance of the building. Removing the toilet pans would add to this disruption. In her opinion the works would lead to ‘great’ harm to the heritage asset and the justification for inflicting such damage was unproven.

In so ruling she rejected an application made by the council for costs against the appellants concluding that the latter had not acted unreasonably in submitting the application and pursuing the appeal.

Inspector Joanna Reid; Hearing

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