Avebury: New housing developments

On the 7 January 2008 the Daily Telegraph quoted Jennifer Baldry (chairman of the parish council) as saying, "This site has been a problem site for some time. It is run down and scruffy and five smart houses would look far better than what's there at present."*
The Telegraph was reporting on plans to demolish the Bonds Garage, situated at the northern edge of the Avebury Henge, and build five new houses there. It is true that the site was scruffy, but for someone who has lived all her life in Avebury I'm surprised Ms Baldry was unable to see the difference between the site, with its intrusive second-hand vans parked outside, and the Bonds Garage building itself.
Bonds Garage (formerly Rawlins' Garage) was actually a 1930s Art Deco building commissioned by Alexander Keiller. The building had a certain charm about it, and on closer inspection one could see the 'Egyptian' Art Deco elements incorporated into its fa├žade. Some may think the building itself was also scruffy, but if it was it was because it had been allowed to become so. The fact of the matter is that the building was, and always had been, an integral part of the Keiller Heritage, with considerable potential for use as something else - something much more valuable to the international community than five 'smart' new houses.
For many, Keiller's Garage would have made an excellent Alexander Keiller Museum (instead of the present pokey, one-room Keiller Museum at the back of the National Trust shop). With a little creative thinking it could also have functioned as an information centre, with an area providing views of both the Avebury Henge and Windmill Hill. A path leading to the north-east quadrant of the circle might also have been laid.
Too late now, the Alexander Keiller Garage has been demolished, and is to be replaced by 'five smart houses'. I hope Ms Baldry is right about these houses being smart (not to mention unobtrusive). Many visitors to Avebury, however, would have liked to have seen the Keiller Garage placed under a protection order as a tangible reminder of Avebury's more modern history and Alexander Keiller's legacy there. The building could have been easily renovated and put to some better use than the five 'smart' new houses - not to mention what seems likely to be the thin end of a larger housing estate wedge inserted on the very doorstep of this World Heritage Site. Sadly, I fear the words of William Stukeley will yet again ring as true today as they did some two and a half centuries ago, and the 'stupendous fabric' of Avebury will once more fall foul to the, "...wretched ignorance and avarice of a little village unluckily plac'd within it."

For a detailed discussion of what went wrong with the planning application at the Bonds Garage site please see -