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Former Church Farmhouse Museum 'going to waste'
Two years after Barnet Borough Council closed Church Farmhouse Museum, campaigners say the historic building has been left “going to waste”.
To date the council has been unable to secure a buyer for the Grade II* listed building in Greyhound Hill, Hendon, since its doors were closed to the public in March 2011.
Proposal were put forward by a health centre and a private school but “high planning risks” meant the deals could not be settled.
Gerrard Roots, who was curator at the museum since 1979, said: “People’s interest disappears once they realise it has a listing because quite simply, they can’t do anything with it.
“The listing means you can’t touch the exterior and you have to ask permission from English Heritage for anything you want to do internally. In reality, who in their right mind is going to take that on?
“It won’t sell – everybody told Barnet that right at the beginning. It was obvious this was going to be the case but they blundered on.”
The old house was once home to the Dunlop family who lived there from 1869 to 1943. Andrew Dunlop came from Ayrshire to live in the house and worked the farm where he mainly produced hay for residents, businesses and horses.
In 1944 the farmhouse, outbuildings and adjoining land were bought by the council and in more recent years the museum was set up to show how an ordinary farming family used to live.
The museum’s artefacts including domestic items such as tea pots and candle sticks as well as jewellery and furniture, were sold in an auction in Warwickshire last year. The council received just over £17,380 for the sale.
Mr Roots said: “There are plenty of nice big houses showing how important people used to live, but Church Farmhouse showed how ordinary people lived in Hendon.
“It is one of the most remarkable buildings in North West London and one of the most important buildings in the area – there’s nothing else like it. But it’s just sitting there dead – it’s so sad it’s just going to waste.”
Having withdrawn £126, 000 annual funding when it closed the museum, the council has made a revenue saving of nearly £100,000 per year.
Meanwhile £2,500 is being spent monthly on 24-hour security, while the authority continues its attempts to sell the building.
Councillor Robert Rams said: “It’s always going to be challenging to sell historic buildings, with a Grade II* status due to restrictions on what can be done.
“However, we are in early discussions with an interested party but are not yet in a position to issue any public pronouncements on this. We will continue to market the building.
“The council has not been prescriptive in identifying any one party or user type for this property, all proposals have, and will continue to be considered.”