A campaign to save one of South Wimbledon's oldest buildings has failed as developers moved in and began demolishing Rose Cottage which is dated from 1813.

The campaign, launched in September, was signed by more than 1,000 people calling for the building to be retained.

Dozens made representations to the council after developers applied for permission to knock down Rose Cottage and build nine homes on the site.

Battles Area Residents Association vice chair Philip Whiteside said: “People in the area are devastated.

“This is a tragic loss for the community.

“People have been fighting hard to keep this building that has been part of the fabric of South Wimbledon for two centuries and they are understandably appalled.

“It is a terrible shame that the developer failed to appreciate the strength of feeling in this part of the town and work with people to retain Rose Cottage.”

Rose Cottage is the oldest building in The Battles housing area and dates from the time when Lord Nelson and Emma Hamilton’s Merton Place estate was broken up and sold off.

People from around the world were among those who signed an online petition calling on the council’s planning department to reject the developer’s application to demolish the building.

Philip Whiteside said: “The campaigners would like to thank everyone who signed the petition or sent in representations to the council in a bid to save this building.

“It is very sad that we have not been successful this time.”

The planning application for the new homes was submitted in late August/early September with permission to demolish the building having previously been granted by council officers in 2016.

Merton Council cabinet member Cllr Martin Whelton said: "I am very sad to see the demolition of Rose Cottage before the planning application was determined by elected councillors given its historic connection with Nelson, but unfortunately we were unable to prevent demolition as the building is neither listed or located within a conservation area." 

An application to list Rose Cottage was dismissed by English Heritage.