IT WAS once the home of one the country's greatest detective novelists – but now Conan Doyle House is to be turned into bedsits.
The imposing property in Tennison Road, South Norwood, was lived in by the Sherlock Holmes author between 1891 and 1894, with residents cherishing his connection with the area.
But now plans have been submitted to Croydon Council to turn the building into a 12-bedroom "house of multiple-occupation".
Jason Cooper, from the South Norwood Tourist Board, explained: "It's awful, we have tried to do everything we can do to stop it but it's a money thing. We were hoping we could find someone to buy it but it hasn't happened."
The house was put up for auction in February but failed to reach its reserve price. Now an application has been put into the council for permission for multiple occupancy "urgently".
The applicant, Revivit Walker, from Bromley, refused to comment when contacted by the Advertiser.
Mr Cooper said: "People and societies from all over the world have contacted us saying how appalled they are that this could happen, everyone is just devastated.
"The problem is it is so dilapidated inside it would cost so much money to repair and no one can afford it. We would have bought it ourselves if we could have. It just needed so much work, it was impossible.
"Our hands are tied. It's just awful that such a historic building should be treated like this."
Councillor Wayne Lawlor has also told the Advertiser that he is not impressed with the plans for the building.
He said: "The cultural treasures in South Norwood are far and few between and we must take care of the ones we have.
"I have asked the council to partner with English Heritage to try and save the site, I don't feel a multiple-occupancy home is the right way to use this building at all.
"We have to be creative and turn it into something that people will want to visit and love, we want to revive the spirit of Sherlock Holmes. We have to come up with something to stop this happening."
Tom Bourlet, 28, a South Norwood resident, added: "It is sad that a local legend isn't having his old house remembered and recognised."