1973 : Park Place Saved – Brenley Doomed

From Mitcham News & Mercury, 14th December 1973, page 1.

Park Place Saved – Brenley Doomed

Storm over the ‘Stately homes’

TWO of Mitcham’s “stately homes” have become the centre of the preservation storm. One has just been temporarily reprieved but the other is doomed for demolition.

Saved – for a while at least – is Park Place, once a highly desirable mansion set in parkland off Commonside-west. The council are reconsidering their earlier decision that it is not worth preserving.

Doomed is Brenley, a Victorian villa, off Commonside-east, at present used as a children’s home.

The Social Services Committee are to bulldoze ahead with their plans to pull it down, despite strong Tory claims led by councillor Mrs Iris Derriman, that this is expensive and needless destruction.

Councillor Peter Casey led the so far successful battle to save Park Place.

“I know the building is not of considerable architectural merit but it is on the supplementary list of these buildings and is in a conservation area.”

Although the majority of objections to its preservation had been on the grounds of costs and that it was not worth saving, he felt it had a certain character and could possibly serve the borough as offices.

“I know that the Greater London Council feel that it should be preserved,” he said.

Councillor Alan Jones angrily pointed out that if the GLC felt that strongly about the building then “they should dig their hands in their pockets and pay for it.”

WASTE

“It was strongly felt by the committee concerned that on all grounds it was not worthy of retention. There is no useful purpose in retaining it. It will be a sheer waste of time.”

The Education Committee who are currently using Park Place as a storage centre for equipment, agreed to reconsider their decision.

But Brenley, a smaller house had its death sentence confirmed by Social Service Chairman Miss Sheila Knight, who swept aside Tory pleas that so much money had been spent on its interior, including central heating that, as Councillor Mrs Derriman claimed, “you are pulling down a perfectly good building.”

“I agree we have spent a lot of money on Brenley but this is the trouble – we could go on spending money in attempts to get it up to the standard it should be for modern child care thinking.

“I think it is time to take a more realistic look at the situation – the present house parents who have given long and devoted service are nearing a well earned retirement and then we are going to have difficulty in attracting the kind of young married couple we need to run this children’s home.”

For despite the council’s efforts to modernize the interior it was still not up to a standard which would give the couple privacy when they were off duty.

A modern building would answer the needs both of the children in care and the family needs of those who looked after them.

Councillor Mrs Iris derriman remembered the recent demolition of The Croft, another old Mitcham villa used by the council as a nurses’ home until it was pulled down earlier this year.

“Now we are talking about removing another perfectly good building. What on earth are we doing? Brenley is a very pleasant building,” she said.

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