Latest move on Mole Man’s dilapidated De Beauvoir mansion
PUBLISHED: 15:52 19 May 2011 | UPDATED: 15:54 19 May 2011
»RESIDENTS living near the crumbling derelict former mansion of the eccentric tunneller known as the Mole Man have vowed to fight a new planning bid to demolish it.
Oddball William Lyttle, 79, died last year owing the council £400,000 after it saved the building in a desirable area of the borough from collapse.
He’d earned worldwide fame during his lifetime after spending 40 years digging a 60ft network of tunnels beneath his £1million house.
An application to knock down the ramshackle three-storey house on the corner of Mortimer Road and Stamford Road and turn it into a four-storey block of eight two-bedroomed flats was turned down by the council last November.
It was lodged by Andrew Fraser, who claims to be administrator for the heirs of Mr Lyttle and is director of property developers Simnat plc and a partner at genealogists and international probate researchers Fraser and Fraser, which featured in the BBC TV series, Heirhunters.
The scheme to demolish it was rejected after council planning officers said it would “result in the loss of a building of local townscape merit, which is a heritage asset and makes a positive contribution to the special historic character of the De Beauvoir Conservation Area”.
But now they have lodged a new planning application to raze the building to the ground and put two four-storey houses in its place.
Stamford Road resident and ex-councillor Chris O’Leary, who chaired the planning committee for eight years, said he and others would fight the demolition.
“The new plans are an improvement on the previous hideous and oversized block of flats, but would still result in the loss of the existing building,” he said.
“The Mole Man’s home is unique to the area, being the only example of double-fronted, back-to-back Victorian villas in De Beauvoir, and therefore a real piece of our cultural and architectural history -–it will be a real pity to lose it,” he added.
Mr Fraser has made no comment on the latest plans. Before the operation to salvage Mr Lyttle’s home - by pouring concrete into the tunnels - council workers had to remove skiploads of junk.
The public can comment on application 2011/1095 until June 13 at www.hackney.gov.uk
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