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Plan to demolish 300-year-old cottage is rejected

A plan to demolish a 300-year-old building on the grounds of Fairmont Southampton has been rejected.

Permission has been sought to tear down the Grade Two listed cottage, Farm Cottage located to the north of the hotel.

It is believed to have been originally erected in the late 17th century as slave quarters.

An application was received by the Planning Department in May from West End Properties Ltd, care of Fairmont Southampton.

A visit by technical officers from the Historic Building Advisory Committee found that while the cottage roof was in disrepair, there were no visible structural cracks in the walls or chimneys and that the building could be rehabilitated.

However, a report by ECM Services this month described the building as being in extremely poor condition, and that large sections of the wooden beams had “completely disintegrated”.

The report added: “A structural portion of the roof has collapsed and the remainder is severely distorted and ready to collapse.”

A letter of objection by the Bermuda National Trust states: “It would be a great loss for this structure to be demolished prematurely and should the application be approved, the BNT asks that there be a condition attached that the recordings of the early structure be completed and that Edward Chappell [Director of Architecture and Archaeology at Colonial Williamsburg] and Trust volunteers be allowed to access the building for another week before the end of 2013.”

Planning Minister Sylvan Richards offered to review a request for the delisting of the building, but stated that such requests must now include a public consultation process. The hotel decided against a delisting request in favour of the application, but may still appeal to the Minister.

Preliminary architectural excavations at the site have suggested the building was erected sometime between 1680 and 1720, and that one or two African slaves had lived there until the 18th century.

Originally a wooden structure, the building's walls were at some point reconstructed with stone, but the timber framing of the original building was retained. While wooden buildings were common in Bermuda during the early years of the Island's settlement, extremely few of the structures have survived intact.

A Special Development Order in 2009 stated the building was poorly located in a “utility corridor” with the hotel's sewage treatment and reverse osmosis facilities.

But the Historic Buildings Advisory Committee at that time recommended the building not be delisted because of its historical value.

A planning assessment of the site had found that the hotel had “consistently refused” to maintain parts of the ageing building. While the western side of the building — the side visible from a nearby private estate road — has been maintained, the other side has not.

“The Minister concluded in 2009 that the hotel was seeking to demolish the building by neglect and an application to delist was refused,” planning documents stated.

A spokeswoman for the Fairmont Southampton was contacted for this story, but said the hotel did not wish to comment on the application.

Old: Fairmont Southampton is seeking to demolish a Grade Two listed building that is in an abandoned state on their property.

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Published August 31, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated August 31, 2013 at 12:34 am)

Plan to demolish 300-year-old cottage is rejected

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