By Alan Winter
Ridge tiles off, and clay roof tiles missing. This was the sorry state of the roof of a Grade II Listed Building in Houghton Regis this morning. The building, known as The Red House, is owned by Central Bedfordshire Council who say they will be erecting scaffolding "this summer".
Concern was raised on social media at the end of July by a former town councillor, Deborah Hamill, who wrote, "Went to the bottle bank this afternoon, tiles off the roof in places, fence down looks completely run down. The next thing you will be telling us it has to come down because it hasnt been protected!!! For goodness sake we let planners ruin our village years ago, lets look after what we have left!!!"
Central Bedfordshire Council issued a statement at the end of July saying, "Over the summer scaffolding will be going up around the Grade II listed Red House. This will allow us to carry out a full structural survey of the property to work out what needs to be done to retain this important asset and keep it safe. Once the survey has been completed, we will be applying for Listed Building consent to undertake works to prevent further deterioration, and will use traditional materials where possible to maintain the character of the building."
The Red House is owned by Central Bedfordshire Council and was occupied by tenants who were moved out, and the place was then boarded up as a precaution against intruders. The house been incorporated into 'Houghton Regis Central', a new development for an independent living scheme for older people. The main new building will provide 170 living units and will include the demolition of Red House Court in Clarke's Way. Residents from Red House Court are expected to be among the first to occupy the new building when it is constructed.
The Council are in talks with the Houghton Regis Heritage Society over the future use of the Red House, currently boarded up. No decision has been made and the Council add that they will continue to work with the Heritage Society and keep them involved in future discussions and meetings.
Roger Turner, from the Heritage Society, confirmed on 23 July, "The Heritage Society expressed concern to CBC about the current state of the Red House and when we met with CBC recently, we were told that repairs to the roof will start very soon. Scaffolding will be put up and tarpaulins put over to protect it whilst work us underway. A lot of work will be done inside to make the building water tight and safe. The Heritage Society will be working with CBC to plan the future use of the Red House."
- As you can see from these pictures, there are no tarpaulins up.
One of the ward's CBC councillors, Cllr Susan Goodchild wrote in response to points made on social media, "The funding for the Houghton Central development which includes the Red House is being funded from the Central Bedfordshire Council's housing revenue account. I am sure you are aware of the huge benefits that this provision will provide to our residents now and for many years to come. I am delighted with the work that the Houghton Regis Heritage Society is undertaking in having very meaningful discussions with Central Bedfordshire Council and supporting them shape to [the] provision of the Red House. Just another example of the amazing voluntary community groups which we have in our Town. It is helping our community to become stronger and hopefully sustainable in the years to come."
Planning permission for the site redevelopment was approved in November 2016 subject to various conditions about conserving the heritage of the area and site, protecting local residents’ privacy and safeguarding the boundary of the site.
Alan Batham wrote on Social Media in December 2016, "My mum n dad lived here for years when it was split into 2 flats. Its a beautiful old building, full of features and character, it needs some serious money spent on it to bring it to its former glory but its part of Houghtons history and should be preserved."
Roger Giugno, a local builder wrote in December 2016, "The renovation side of things although extensive could come in at quite a reasonable amount if local companies are put at the top of the preferred bidder list rather than bussing in companies from out of the area and competitive quotes are gained rather than using a select 'circle' of companies."
Darren Coleman-Heald wrote on 26th July, "At the rate it is deteriorating there will be nothing left to incorporate".
Andy Swain-y, on 28th July was concerned, "The question needs to be asked why on earth was it allowed to get in this state in the first place, there's only one reason why you let something sit and Decay you want it gone, it will probably look out of place when all the new buildings are in place so let's run it down have a survey and say it's in disrepair."
Roger Giugno was even less impressed, commenting, "here we have a blatant abuse by CBC of neglect and it aint going to happen. Councils and cllrs long gone have ruined Houghtons Heritage and this is one last remaining building that should be preserved."
Artist impressions of the house and finished development:
THE RED HOUSE- "Extract from Historic Building Assessment by Albion Archeology"The building comprises a 2½-storey primary range dating from the 17th century with a two-storey rear extension and a single-storey southern range.
The primary range has a 2½-bay plan. The half bay in the middle of the house contains a central chimney stack, lobby entrance and a circulation space at the rear of the stack. The bay to the south of the stack is slightly longer than the bay to the north. The rooms comprise two ground floor living rooms, two first-floor bedrooms and a landing on the south side of the stack. The attic rooms are currently only accessible from a hatch in the ceiling of the first-floor landing.
The two-storey extension extends across the rear of the middle and northern bays. It consists of a single storey outshot to which a first-floor extension was added in the 20th century. On the ground floor, it has been extended into the primary range with an open timber partition marking the line of the former rear wall of the primary range. This room is currently a kitchen and hall with stairs to the first-floor landing.
The southern range is a former 19th-century outbuilding which was converted for residential use in the 20th century. It contains a bathroom, toilet, kitchen and bedroom. Read more ...
- UPDATE 10th August - Scaffolding Goes Up.
- Facebook Group - Houghton Regis Central - independent living scheme for older people
- On the web: www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/houghton-regis-central
- Plans: CB/16/03378