The man who lived there once sent shivers down the spines of millions of readers, but now Dennis Wheatley’s former home is in dire peril of coming to a sticky end itself.

The Victorian mansion called Clinton House in Streatham Hill was the abode of the thriller writer, famous half a century ago for a string of chilling novels about Satanic practices, often set in spooky old houses.

But now developers Abode want to knock down the derelict building to create a five storey block of flats.

Earlier this month they withdrew the application giving hope it might be saved.

Bu last week English Heritage confirmed that a bid to give it Grade II listed status had been rejected, leaving the site vulnerable to other developers.

Abode wanted to tear down the 117 year old mansion on Palace Road and replace it with a block of 33 flats. The building has lain derelict for years and has been damaged by vandals and squatters.

On Friday a spokesman for English Heritage, who advised the Government against giving the building listed status, said: “Although a once-attractive example of a late-Victorian suburban villa, Clinton House lacks the special architectural or historical interest required for listing at Grade II. In particular, it has suffered severe damage due to vandalism and decay, including the loss or mutilation of nearly all of its original internal features.”

They also said that Wheatley is “no longer a particularly well known author” and the link to his life were not enough to protect the house.

Rival developer the Heritage Property Consortium (HPC), which has proposed a scheme it claims would preserve the building, had lodged an objection report saying that Abode’s proposal would be illegal and go against the council’s unitary development plan.

Under HPC’s plan most of the building would be kept as a large family home and the rest would be given over to offices. A spokesman for the consortium said: “We merely wish to restore to its 19th century condition what is already there.”