A Victorian vicarage is being demolished to make way for a new carbon neutral one, plus flats and houses.
Demolition works to the vicarage at Christ Church in Coombe Road, New Malden, began this week.
Councillors three years ago rejected redevelopment plans put forward by the church for flats, semi-detached houses and a two-storey church, but this was overthrown on appeal.
Vicar Stephen Kuhrt said: "It was built to be impressive and that’s why people don’t want it to go. But we have kept a lot of the historical stuff that was inside.
"We want to build a church for the future - a carbon neutral vicarage, a new church hall and some houses. It will make better use of the land. I am in favour of it."
Mr Kuhrt, of Woodside Road, said he was the first vicar since the building was built in 1874, not to live in the vicarage.
He said: "It was riddled in dry rot."