Colliers Wood tower to stay despite falling masonry, drugs and porn movie

Tall order: Developers are unable to pull down the tower because it sits on top of the Underground

Tall order: Developers are unable to pull down the tower because it sits on top of the Underground

First published in Wimbledon by

The Brown and Root Tower looks set to blight the Colliers Wood landscape indefinitely as developers remain in a stalemate over the future of the building voted the most hated in London.

Falling masonry, drug addicts using the car park, and even reports of porn movies filmed on the site have led Mitcham and Morden’s MP, Siobhain McDonagh to demand Merton Council takes action.

Netting was erected on the tower to protect the public at the end of last year and the grounds have been fenced off to keep criminals out, but Ms McDonagh claims the measures are “insufficient”.

Although planning permission to redevelop the site has been granted, developers told the MP last week that there is no prospect of converting the office block into flats until the economy picks up.

She said: “It’s degrading at a really fast rate. This has always been an issue and it’s getting worse.

“The building is becoming a magnet for antisocial behaviour.

“It really is disgraceful that such a landmark building which can be seen from miles around should have become a symbol of urban squalor and decay.”

Keith Spears, founder of Making Colliers Wood Happy

"I want the council to apply more pressure to make sure something is done.

“At the moment they only seem interested in the lowest common denominator approach and doing something about falling masonry but not the overall look of it.

"They are doing the minimum rather than the maximum.”

Mike Hughes, head of development at Criterion Capital, said: “Merton Council finally gave us permission to redevelop, but if they hadn’t messed us about for so long we would have started work on the site sometime ago.”

He added that Criterion has worked with the health and safety directorate to ensure site is clean and safe, employing a security company to look at the area and paying for the building to be boarded up and fenced off.

Merton Council’s interim director for the environment, Sarah Tanburn, said: “We would never allow a company to mothball a building as this would be tantamount to exempting them from responsibility for their property.

“We are doing all that we are able to do in the circumstances and have insisted that, at the very least, the owners ensure the building is safe and secure.”

In 2008, a Channel 4 poll named the tower in the top 10 of buildings the British public would most like to see demolished.

But with the site on top of the Tube line, the tower would have to be taken down brick by brick.

Keith Spears, chairman of the Colliers Wood Resident’s Association, said: “It really is disgraceful that such a landmark building which can be seen from miles around should have become a symbol of urban squalor and decay.”

• What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (2)

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1:49pm Thu 30 Apr 09

Kerry_M says...

If there really is no way the tower can be taken down, it might be worth the authorities looking at the transformation of three tower blocks in Wandsworth for some tips.
There were three very ugly and oppressive tower blocks right in the middle of Wandsworth Town, over the Southside Centre, which could be seen for miles around.
However they have since been given a drastic makeover - the exterior is now a plain white and they've had new roofs put on, making them look less like tower block slums. Not so much of an eyesore now.
If there really is no way the tower can be taken down, it might be worth the authorities looking at the transformation of three tower blocks in Wandsworth for some tips. There were three very ugly and oppressive tower blocks right in the middle of Wandsworth Town, over the Southside Centre, which could be seen for miles around. However they have since been given a drastic makeover - the exterior is now a plain white and they've had new roofs put on, making them look less like tower block slums. Not so much of an eyesore now. Kerry_M
  • Score: 0

2:12pm Sat 2 May 09

Fred1 says...

So the tower can't be demolished because it's perched on top of the Northern Line - despite having had incidents of falling masonry. Am I alone in thinking that these are compellingly good reasons for not leaving the tower standing?

Ronan Point springs to mind. So does 9/11.

So the tower can't be demolished because it's perched on top of the Northern Line - despite having had incidents of falling masonry. Am I alone in thinking that these are compellingly good reasons for not leaving the tower standing? Ronan Point springs to mind. So does 9/11. Fred1
  • Score: 0

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