Bunhill: Not afraid

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The Independent Online
AS THIS column reported in January, Sir Peter Walters is clearly not afraid of Virginia Woolf.

The Midland Bank overlord also chairs Blue Circle Industries, which has been campaigning to demolish Asham House, the Blomsbury novelist's Grade 11 listed country retreat to expand a rubbish dump at Beddingham, East Sussex. Now the demolition has been given the go-ahead after the Department of the Environment said it would not intervene.

The house, which was built in 1820 and features prized Gothic pointy windows, is in a sorry state. Boarded up and in need of repair, it has a quarry on one side and a large waste tip on the other into which the refuse from Brighton, Lewes and Eastbourne has been pouring for some time. Unpleasant odourshave been wafting across the home where the novelist once entertained the likes of EM Forster and John Maynard Keynes.

'I think it is terribly sad,' says Hermione Lee, who is currently working on a biography of the author.

Blue Circle will now be expected to fulfil its promise to donate pounds 626,000 to other Woolf-related properties in Sussex.