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Crown Houses, Kew

Volume 440: debated on Monday 21 July 1947

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asked the Minister of Agriculture why the Crown properties, 17 and 19, The Green, Kew, Surrey, have been unoccupied for 16 years although these houses are capable of being made fit for habitation; and, in view of the serious housing problem which exists in the neighbourhood, if he will take steps to arrange that they be placed at the disposal of the local authority to rehouse homeless families from their waiting list.

These houses, which are 200 years old, were regarded before the war as fit only for demolition, and it was proposed to rebuild them (retaining their facade on account of its architectural interest) as an official residence for the Assistant Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens. This proposal had to be postponed on the outbreak of war, but it is intended to proceed with the work as soon as conditions permit. I am advised that the present state of the buildings is such that they could not be adapted for housing purposes.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a local builder is quite prepared to adapt these houses at reasonable cost and make them fit for habitation; and would he look into this matter again, and offer them to the Home Secretary to see if it is possible for him to make use of them in connection with the housing of N.F.S. firemen for whom he has had great difficulty in finding accommodation?

I understand that various proposals have been made about these two cottages over the past 17 years, but none of the proposals were accepted, and after 17 years, I feel that deterioration will now have reached such a point that it would be folly to make a payment to make them habitable.

Does the Minister now say that no steps will be taken, if for no other reason than that of historical sentiment, to see that these fine old Georgian houses are preserved?

Yes. I hope that, if conditions permit, work will proceed on them. We hope not only to retain the facade, but to make them available for the Assistant Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens.