Friday, 29 January 2010

Read our latest Annual Report

The Georgian Group's latest Annual Report, available free online, summarises our recent work across the broad spectrum of our activities, from campaigning to education. Among the casework covered is our involvement with Scraptoft Hall on the eastern edge of Leicester. A late seventeenth century country house altered and recased in around 1720 for Laetitia Wigley, it was converted to university use after the Second World War but is now disused and decaying with clear evidence of vandalism which, though petty, has been persistent enough to have a significant cumulative effect. At the same time, the setting has been badly degraded with the building of a large housing estate on the former campus. In this kind of case the best answer is usually to get the property back into use and it can be tempting to jump at the first opportunity that presents itself; tempting, but sometimes misguided. Here we were faced with a proposed conversion to a 97-bed care home allied to demolition and rebuilding of the service range, conversion of the remaining outbuildings and further extensive new building in the grounds. The effect would have been ruinous, a blighting of the historic building masquerading as salvation. In our view, no scheme which was financially dependent on such a massive new development could seriously be regarded as optimal viable use. English Heritage responded to our request for backing and a public inquiry was held in 2009, the outcome of which is awaited. Our picture shows Scraptoft in 2007: much of the glass and many of the glazing bars (note the thickness, correct for the 1720 date) have now been smashed, presenting a sad and increasingly derelict spectacle. But as the picture also shows, the house is a magnificant specimen, well worth saving.

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