10:59am Thursday 26th October 2006
By Lisa Williams
After years of neglect, Marshall House in Tolworth is due to be demolished in the next three months.
The former office building, with its distinctive stilted structure, has been standing derelict for nearly 20 years. Residents claim it is now a stamping ground for graffiti artists, pigeons and antisocial behaviour.
Irene Mortimer, who lives in a neighbouring flat, said: "Marshall House is an absolute state. Its owners tried to secure it but now it is inhabited by pigeons, tramps have been living there and the local yobs hang out there to do graffiti."
A spokesman for Chinacorp, which owns the site and is a development partner with Tesco Corporate said visitors to the Tesco exhibition were asked to fill in a form about the fate of Marshall House.
He said: "We received 71 forms, 69 of which said they were in favour of the building being demolished immediately. The other two contained criticisms of the Tesco development so I believe this to be human error, as it is unrelated.
"Chinacorp is therefore going to demolish the building regardless of whether or not the Tesco application is permitted, and it is looking to do it within the next three months."
Councillor Rolson Davies welcomed the demolition.
He said: "It is such an eyesore. It has been left derelict so long and it brings the rest of the area down."
The area it stands on, which is between Tolworth railway station and Dean Court in Kingston Road, is marked out to become an exit road if the Tesco application is approved.
Meanwhile the proposed Tesco store has been welcomed by Mrs Mortimer, who is chairman of the residents' association in Drayton Court where she has lived since 1971.
She said: "I'm wholeheartedly in favour of Tesco. We are out on a limb here in these flats with no other residents around us. Kids come to Tolworth to go bowling, making the area full of litter and louts. With all the security Tesco will bring, it will make us feel a lot safer."
Chinacorp, Tesco Corporate's development partner, held a private meeting for residents of Drayton Court and neighbouring Dean Court before the public exhibition.
"There are mixed feelings about the development, but people who have been living here for years are so fed up with the uncertainty of planning they want something done once and for all," said Mrs Mortimer.
Although increased traffic remains an issue, Mrs Mortimer is optimistic about other transport improvements.
She said: "If there is housing for key workers it may also mean they put on more trains into London and more buses which would be good. The walkway to the Broadway will mean we don't have to walk under the subway."
She disputes claims that a Tesco superstore will take business away from existing shops.
"People are saying it will kill the Broadway but the Broadway died years ago. Many businesses have already abandoned Tolworth," she said.
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