REFURBISHMENT work at Forty Hall has been given the green light by Enfield planners.

However, the 17th Century Jacobean mansion, a grade I listed building in Forty Hill, will have to wait until Secretary of State John Denham has given formal approval before work can commence.

Consent is sought for the replacement of the main staircase, the installation of a lift shaft, the removal of the entrance porch and the construction of a glazed roof to the central courtyard.

Redecoration of the interior will be carried out "by detailed investigation of historic finishes", according to the application.

The work has received widespread support from historical and conservation groups, including the Ancient Monument Society, the Council for British Archaeology and the Conservation Advisory Group.

However, objections have been raised by the Victorian Society to the complete demolition of the staircase, built in 1897.

The Society believes several of the proposed alterations in the house aim to reverse 19th Century changes on the basis they are of lesser significance.

Heloise Brown, Victorian Society conservation advisor, said: "The staircase is very central both in terms of the circulation of the house and its decoration, so it is a very important feature. It is a focus point.

"It is absolutely representative of the development of the house and a big part of the intervention of the Victorian era, so it is quite significant from a 19th Century point of view.

"Using bits and pieces of it to make another staircase isn't the same. It's like using window frames to build a new house.

"With a building of this importance, we would ask for the whole staircase to be preserved."

The Forty Hall and Bulls Cross Study Group also voiced concerns about the possible impact of the refurbishment work on traffic and parking levels, which it belives may disrupt the surrounding park.

But Enfield planners dismissed the objection, stating the proposed alterations would not result in "material change" of use and there is "no presumption this will result in a change in parking demand".

They concede, however, that large vehicles have "frequently" damaged the grade II listed gate piers bordering the narrow Forty Hall entrance in the past and advise the Group to contact Enfield Council's highway service to highlight this issue.