Newly released archive material has revealed how an international diplomatic campaign averted the demolition of a row of Georgian houses on Grafton Way, Fitzrovia.
Richard Osley reports in the Westminster Extra that the buildings were “within a whisker of being bulldozed” in the early 1970s until diplomats from Venezuela appealed to the government to save them.
Number 58 Grafton Way has special historical significance for Venezuela as it is where Francisco Miranda and Andres Bello lived and where Simon Bolivar visited on his mission to secure the country’s independence from Spain in 1810.
Demolishing the buildings would have soured relations between Britain and Venezuela and so the British foreign office intervened and offered a solution. They suggested the buildings be preserved and that would force Camden Council’s hand to refuse the planning application for redevelopment and therefore prevent their demolition.
The buildings are now Grade 1 listed and decorated with blue plaques to Miranda and Bello.
Westminster Extra: Diplomacy saved the day and a slice of Venezuela’s history.