Builder slapped with £60,000 court bill for demolishing Cally home of Britain's first female dentist Lilian Lindsay
PUBLISHED: 11:24 20 February 2019
A developer has been slapped with a court bill of £60,000 for demolishing two Victorian villas in the Cally - including the home of Britain's first female dentist.
The pair of four-storey semis in Hungerford Road were inside the Hillmarton conservation area and one of them had an English Heritage blue plaque honouring Lilian Lindsay.
Lindsay, who died in 1960 aged 88, was the first female president of the British Dental Association (BDA), and was born in one of the houses.
But that didn’t stop Panos Eliades and his company Hungerstone from unlawfully knocking them down.
Staff at the BDA had no idea the home had been demolished when approached by the Gazette, with those that attended the plaque’s unveiling particularly upset.
A spokesperson said: “We were shocked and saddened to hear that the house where Lilian Lindsay, the first woman to qualify as a dentist in the UK, once lived has been demolished.”
Luckily, English Heritage – which did not want to comment for this piece – announced earlier this week it would be moving the plaque to the former BDA headquarters in Russell Square, where she worked.
The organisation said: “Lilian Lindsay was the first woman to qualify as a dentist in Britain in 1895, overcoming many obstacles to do so.
“Her plaque, originally marking a now-demolished building in Islington, will be installed at a new location at the former British Dental Association headquarters in Russell Square where she worked from 1920 to 1935 and lived in an upstairs flat.”
English Heritage’s blue plaque panel member David Olusoga added that Lindsay “broke the glass ceiling” in her profession.
The demolished homes dated from 1860 and had a number of notable architectural features, particularly their original brick facade and grand traditional windows to the first floor.
Planning permission was granted in January 2017 for a scheme that would retain the facade, and had a number of conditions attached to protect original features.
But instead of sticking to the agreed plans and implementing the approved supports and frame, the developers demolished the building down to the ground floor.
Eliades and Hungerstone pleaded guilty to 10 offences at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on December 11 for demolishing the villas without permission and failing to comply with conditions of a previous planning permission.
They were ordered to pay a combined sum in fines and costs of £59,261.32.
In his sentencing remarks, district judge Rimmer said: “This was at least a flagrant disregard of the planning permission, if not an intentional breach, and steps could and should have been taken to alert Islington Council to the defendants’ intentions before the near-total demolition occurred.
“There was either actual foresight of, or at least wilful blindness to, the risk of committing a criminal offence by going beyond the agreed planning permission.
“The harm is irreplaceable loss of the original villas in a conservation area, and that harm was an obvious and inevitable result of the defendants’ actions.”
Following the court case, Islington Council’s housing chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward said: “This was a clear breach of planning regulations, and we will take action to protect Islington’s buildings and history from being harmed or destroyed.
“We now hope the houses will be rebuilt in a manner which is sympathetic to their Victorian appearance – while this won’t bring back the original houses, it will help bring back the look and feel of the conservation area and surrounding historic neighbourhood.”
Eliades has now submitted plans to rebuild them in a way that is “sympathetic” to their original appearance.
A report attached to the application states: “The application site is currently vacant following the demolition of the two original buildings.
“The proposed development would replicate the same form, massing and materials, thereby preserving the character and appearance of the streetscene and broader conservation area.
“The application site had comprised two semi-detached properties typical of the design and form of other semi-detached pairings along Hungerford Road. These were recently demolished.”
The new homes won’t need to replicate the original building’s exactly as Islington’s planners said aspects of them, like the roof extension, did not fit with the conservation area anyway.