THE company which owns the historic Rubicon Garden Villa — once the home of tycoon Sir Victor Sassoon — has been ordered to change the vegetable patch back to a heritage British flower garden, after a Shanghai Daily report on Thursday.
The villa on 2310 Hongqiao Road was listed as one of the city’s first protected cultural relic units in September 1989.
The owner, investment management and consulting company Kamel, was using the large plot in front of the classic British-style garden villa to plant vegetables and raise chickens.
The housing management bureau of Changning told Shanghai Daily in a written statement the company was violating heritage protection laws.
“The gardens and all the plants are important components to historic buildings and must be protected,” the bureau said in its statement.
The housing authority will also evaluate the structure of the historic building to check if there is any damage.
Housing and cultural authorities will establish a restoration plan. They will also monitor the property to prevent further violations.
Under city regulations, authorities will step in to preserve historic properties and the owners must pay the cost.
Demolishing or damaging such a property carries a fine of up to 500,000 yuan (US$73,000).
The villa, also known as the Sassoon Villa, was built in early 1930s for Sir Victor Sassoon (1881-1961).
The real estate tycoon, from a wealthy hotelier family, was founder of Shanghai’s landmark Cathay Hotel on the Bund, which is now the Peace Hotel.