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Evidence Needed To Save Victorian Villa Or Demolition Permission Likely To Be Granted

Published on: 2 Aug, 2022
Updated on: 3 Aug, 2022

By David Rose

Concerns have been raised over a planning application to demolish a Victorian house on Pewley Hill, Guildford, and replace it with a new build home.

Newlands Cottage, 41 Pewley Hill, Guildford. A planning application has been submitted to demolish the house and replace it with a new build home.

However, unless evidence can be found that shows the house has some historical importance and can then be given listed status, the application is likely to get the nod.

The house, Newlands Cottage, is at 41 Pewley Hill and is sited next door to Semaphore House, a building of historical importance, built as one of a chain of signalling stations linking the Admiralty in London to Portsmouth during the early 19th century.

Guildford Borough Councillor John Redpath (Holy Trinity, Residents 4GV), has suggested a number of facts would need to be found to possibly save Newlands Cottage.

These include: knowing exactly when it was built, who designed it, who built it, and why it was built (for instance was it built for the operating and maintenance staff of the Admiralty semaphore tower?).

A view of Newlands Cottage and Semaphore House thought to be from the early 1900s and taken from Semaphore Road. The large wind pump on the left may have been used for pumping water at the adjacent reservoir. Picture from the book Guildford Our Town by David Rose.

The semaphore tower became redundant in 1847, replaced by the electric telegraph. Was the cottage (if built by then) sold and to whom and for what use? A house? Has anyone of importance lived in the cottage?

Anyone who can provide sound answers is asked to email John Redpath at:

There have been a number of objections to the planning application submitted to Guildford Borough Council.

One of the objectors states: “I was shocked and disappointed to hear of this planning application which seems to be an act of building vandalism. Newlands Cottage is a very pretty home with rare attractive flint stonework, providing a very pleasing diversity to the housing in the area. The cottage is not derelict, tumbledown or ugly in any way to justify knocking it down.”

The Holy Trinity Amenity Group has also objected, saying: “Although there are other fine Victorian villas in the town, this is a prime and isolated example. It has attractive flint and brick wall facing and decorated bargeboards to four gables, complete with finials, and has been little altered.

“It is unusual in that the east side elevation is in full public view, as well as the frontage, because of the adjacent open space above the reservoir. This side view is more like a frontage itself, and equally attractive.

“There might be a case for making this a locally listed building. With the increased concealment of Semaphore House by the new Semaphore Road flats, and loss of public views of the nearby Pewley Fort by various developments, there is a need to protect what is left from the Victorian era in this area, such as this building.”

The Holy Trinity Amenity Group also notes in its objection some confusion over the deadline set by Guildford Borough Council for comments and objections to the application. The group says it was informed of the application on July 4, therefore its objection was within the 21 days permitted.

The group wrote: “However, there was no notification to the houses opposite who are separate from the site by a road only 10m wide – compared to the 20m to allow them to be excluded. An update site notice has only recently been displayed. The consultation expiry date given on the website is 5th August, we hope that any objections received before this date will have full validity.”

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Responses to Evidence Needed To Save Victorian Villa Or Demolition Permission Likely To Be Granted

  1. Ben Paton Reply

    August 3, 2022 at 11:55 am

    What about the carbon footprint?

    It is not environmentally friendly to destroy a functional house. The insulation of the house could be upgraded.

    Demolition requires the loss of all the carbon emissions invested in the original bricks and timber.

    Reconstruction requires the use of a whole lot of new building materials – all of which have cost carbon to create.

    Do the environmental consequences enter into GBC’s calculation?

    If the applicant for demolition is a large building firm the outcome is probably predetermined.

  2. Nathan Cassidy Reply

    August 4, 2022 at 4:31 pm

    How horrendous that we could lose such a beautiful building, which is in an architectural style I strongly associate with Guildford.

    I sadly predict some tasteless millionaire is about to destroy this to erect some bland grey and glass structure.

    I couldn’t agree more with Ben Paton. Not only will we lose an irreplaceable building, but the waste of the planet’s resources is inexcusable.

  3. Peter Mills Reply

    August 4, 2022 at 5:47 pm

    I wouldn’t waste any time objecting to this. Guildford Planning Department ignored over 100 objections to the five monstrous buildings holding 12 one-bed flats (with three parking spaces) that replaced a single house at 11 Annandale Road.

    If they can pass that, they will pass anything.

    For transparency, I live opposite.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      August 5, 2022 at 4:38 pm

      Is there a Neighbourhood Plan for the area. If not why not?

  4. M Durant Reply

    August 4, 2022 at 8:01 pm

    What a shame, it is a beautiful house that adds to the area, unlike some other minimalist new builds that are bland and do not make the area better.

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