AN MP plans to demolish a historic building in a town centre and replace it with two terraced houses.
David Willetts, the Tory MP for Havant, has become a talking point in the town after applying to the council to demolish the property next to his constituency home.
The move has caused concern among conservationists as the quaint building in West Street dates back to the 17th century and is in a protected conservation area.
However, Mr Willetts told The News the building, which is not listed, has been deemed structurally unsound and cannot be restored.
The house was bought in 2008 for £220,000.
Mr Willetts has applied to Havant Borough Council to demolish the building and rebuild it in the same style and scale into two two-bedroom terraces.
The house was originally two properties.
Ann Griffiths, from Havant conservation group, Bosmere Hundred Society, said: ‘There is concern but if you look at the plans as a layperson it’s difficult to find an objection.
‘Obviously we don’t want it to come down if it does not have to, but it might have to.
‘It looks to be in a pretty dreadful state.
‘We would want photographs taken if they do demolish so we have a record of it.’
She added: ‘If the application goes ahead then there should be an archaeological survey under the ground.
‘We think it’s an opportunity for a survey because it’s on the Roman line.’
Mr Willetts said: ‘We bought it two or three years ago with the aim of restoring it and got permission to restore it to what it was originally two little houses. But when the surveyor and builder looked at it they concluded it’s just too fragile.
‘Basically it’s being held up by scaffolding. Because it’s not structurally sound we have had to go for the more radical option of sadly having to demolish it.
‘If we get permission we propose to rebuild it in exactly the same scale and style.
‘It’s in a conservation area and we have to respect the character of the area.
‘The aim is to rebuild using as many of the old bricks as we can.’
Mr Willetts said he would be keen for an archaeological survey if the council said it was necessary.
He added: ‘We will probably let it out. There’s no public money involved in any of this.
‘This is our own money. In fact we have borrowed most of the money for it.
‘We think we can improve the area by rescuing this and getting something structurally sound that matches the character of the area.’
Estate agents said the rental price for each house could be about £750 a month.
Sandra Bryant, manager at Your Move, West Street, said both could sell for about £200,000 each. Havant planners are now considering the proposal.