19 Lavender Hill is an address I will never forget. I have only vague and uncertain memories of my various addresses at university, and could take a stab at my first home in London, but not with any confidence. But I know I will always remember 19 Lavender Hill. Which in a way is a disappointment because I’ll remember for being a dump, an unkempt eyesore detracting from Lavender Hill.

The building has been abandoned for as long as I can remember (I might just remember it being a shop, but it’s such a long time ago I’m not sure if it’s a false memory) and for a long time the council were trying to get the old owner to renovate and bring it back into use, eventually using the threat of a compulsory purchase order which seemed to prompt the owner into action. Sadly it was not to be, and they went through the motions to buy time. Eventually the council went through with the CPO and became the owner for a short while.

The building formally got new owners at the end of last month when the contract of sale was completed, and as part of the purchase deal they have an obligation to bring the building back into use.

This obligation is time-limited, and the details depend on the buyer’s wishes (they have slightly longer if they wish to apply for their own planning permission rather than use the one the council obtained) but the short story is that the building will now be made secure, renovated and brought back into use, either by letting or selling the retail and residential parts.

There is a part of me that is a little cynical, having seen the issue drag on for so long, but with luck we should start seeing work done on the building in the very near future and – at long last – start to see that down-at-heel corner of Lavender Hill start to improve.

19-lavender-hillI’ve posted about 19 Lavender Hill, the abandoned, eyesore, building on the corner of Garfield Road on a couple of occasions before and have had plenty of correspondence from residents (both near and far to the building) about it. But it still remains an very obvious blight on the road.

In order to provide a brief follow-up the wheels are still, slowly, turning. Having failed – through pressure and incentive – to get the original owners to bring the site back in use the council used its powers of compulsory purchase to buy the building. It as then to be sold on, but because we wanted to ensure the new owners would have not only the ability to renovate and bring the building back into use but would also have the legal obligation to do this quickly the sale was not as straightforward as most property transactions.

However, I’ve been told by council officers that there is now a buyer who have a track record of bringing properties like this back into use. They and the council are currently completing the legal side of the sale and (though I am very wary of tempting fate on this) we should see the site smartening up in the early part of next year and back in use by next summer or autumn.

19-lavender-hillOne of the ugliest buildings in Shaftesbury ward has to be 19 Lavender Hill. I can’t remember seeing the building in use in all the time I’ve lived here. Indeed, thinking about all the changes Lavender Hill has seen the dilapidated building on the corner of Garfield Road and Lavender Hill is one of the few constants.

But hopefully that will soon come to an end.  I, along with council colleagues, have been pushing for action to be taken for some time and the building will soon have new owners who will, hopefully, rid it of pigeons and restore it to use.

The original owners had been under the threat of a compulsory purchase order for some time, and had delayed by making some moves at restoration.  However, when it became clear that no long term change was going to come the council used it’s compulsory purchase powers.  That the council made a Compulsory Purchase Order shows how bad the building had got, since there is a policy preference to working with landlords and freeholder to bring a building back into use rather than forcing a sale.

The building is now owned by the council, and will soon be put back into the market with conditions the building is renovated and re-occupied in a reasonable time.  Quite what impact this has on the local pigeon population remains to be seen, but for humans it should see an improvement in the street scene of that bit of Lavender Hill.