An historic house deemed a local heritage asset has been dismantled by developers without planning permission.
Berkhamsted’s New Lodge was supposed to form part of a 54 luxury homes development in Bank Mill Lane under plans approved by Dacorum Borough Council.
Those interested in protecting the house spent years working with developers and planners before council chiefs were happy to let building work go ahead.
The approved plan required that New Lodge would be retained and converted into four flats.
But Dacorum Borough Council enforcement officers were called in last week by Councillor Laurence Handy after he discovered that the house was being taken down piece by piece.
It later emerged that Chase Green Developments had been in talks with the council’s conservation officer about dismantling and rebuilding the house, which sits in almost two hectares of land, because it was deemed unsafe.
However, to date, no formal planning application has been submitted.
Councillor Handy, who is chairman of the town council planning committee, said: “I am very upset by this decision, and in particular that we were not consulted at any stage.
“This is wholly outside the normal planning process, and we have been treated with total contempt.
“Whatever the reason for the demolition, they have ignored all the processes. It’s our town, for God’s sake. I am absolutely furious.
“There should have been a proper consultation and a proper application not just gung-ho and let’s dismantle it.”
Letters to explain what has happened have now been sent out to householders by Philip Stanley from the borough council’s planning enforcement team.
He said: “No one is happy with this situation, however, over time the building had reached such a poor state of repair that it was not even safe for renovation works to take place – or indeed physically possible.”
Materials recovered from the old house are expected to be used to rebuild New Lodge and it is understood that a planning application for these works will be submitted within the next month.
Chase Green Developments director Richard Lotherington said: “New Lodge was dismantled under the supervision of a consultant archeologist and consultant conservationist in consultation with Dacorum Borough Council, and we will be submitting a planning application for reinstatement of the building architecturally as it was before.”
Mr Handy said: “We have been working for six years to make sure that the original house formed part of this development, they are just riding roughshod over local communities.”