Owner of Grade II-listed Langstone 'railway' cottages denies starting the blaze that destroyed them

A WOMAN who bought two much-loved Grade II-listed cottages has denied starting the fire that destroyed them after facing a year of rumours and ‘hostility’.

Tuesday, 19th November 2019, 11:34 am
Updated Friday, 22nd November 2019, 1:06 pm
The aftermath of the fire that destroyed the so-called Railway Cottages in Langstone Road, Havant, overnight on December 9, 2018. Picture: Habibur Rahman

It comes after historic buildings at 59 and 61 Langstone Road, known as the Railway Cottages, burned to the ground overnight on December 9.

Police treated the blaze as arson but today confirmed no arrests have been made, with the case filed pending in the event of further information.

Critchley Architecture and Design, based in Havant, has issued a position statement on behalf of the cottages' anonymous owner.

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The so-called Railway Cottages in Langstone Road, Havant, ablaze on December 9. The fire would go on to destroyed the Grade II-listed buildings. Picture: Sam Roberts

It said she wanted to restore and convert the two semi-detached cottages into a single property after buying them in June, 2018.

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‘A planning application was initially submitted to undertake these works,' the firm said.

‘This would have created a family home which the owner could enjoy for years to come, and a heritage asset that the local residents would continue to enjoy.

The aftermath of the fire that destroyed the so-called Railway Cottages in Langstone Road, Havant, overnight on December 9, 2018. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘The fire in December, 2018 was devastating and extremely distressing to the owner, who has not only lost her home, but has been subject to a year of hostility and false accusations of deliberate arson.’

Plans to replace both buildings have been lodged with Havant Borough Council, after the authority ordered their reconstruction in January.

Agents Critchley Architecture and Design said a rebuild would be ‘as close as reasonably possible to the originals’, but could not match their state immediately prior to the fire, as demanded by the council, because they were ‘uninhabitable' at the time.

An artist's impression of the restored Langstone Railway Cottages. The Grade II-listed landmark was destroyed in a fire overnight on December 9, 2018. Credit: Critchley Architecture and Design

‘The replacement for the cottages will have to be rebuilt from the foundations up – the previous cottages had no foundations,' the firm said.

‘Therefore, the replacement will technically be a new building and will have to comply with the current building regulations, including minimum internal dimensions and insulation standards.’

The former cottages’ remains would be dismantled, enabling developers to dig foundations for their reconstruction using their original footprints.

Agents said the plans were the ‘best practical solution' to the cottages’ replacement, while maintaining their much-loved former appearance.

As previously reported, the buildings are commonly dubbed the Railway Cottages, but were built 75 years prior to the construction of the Hayling Island railway branch line.