Page last updated at 12:35 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 13:35 UK

Call to preserve hospice building

Caterham hospice
Marie Curie Cancer Care closed the Caterham hospice in March

Residents and councillors have called for an historic building in Surrey to be preserved following its closure as a hospice for cancer patients.

Marie Curie Cancer Care closed the hospice in Harestone Drive, Caterham, earlier this year despite a demonstration by hundreds of people.

Now the community has said it does not want the Victorian mansion it occupied to be knocked down for redevelopment.

Marie Curie said it had no firm plans for the site at the moment.

Some outbuildings on the site are still in use by the charity but the main house, dating from 1879, is vacant.

Tandridge District Council approved a concept statement for the site on Thursday after a group of residents paid for planning consultants to prepare draft plans.

'Amazing rooms'

"It is a stunning building which dominates the huge site," said Councillor Beverley Connolly.

"Because it has been modernised and changed it hasn't been listed but has some amazing rooms.

"There is a panelled library and a fantastic staircase."

The concept statement assumes residential use for the site.

The preferred option is conversion of the building to apartments, keeping the existing gardens, with new homes on the eastern end of the site.

Ms Connolly said she would not support demolition of the building for new housing, even if that meant the site was more valuable to the charity.

"To flatten it would be a tragedy and there are people in the community who would be standing in front of the bulldozers," she said.

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