Elizabeth Cottage roof before works undertaken

Article by Gary Pearson: A frustrated property developer has vowed to appeal after his plans for to turn a dilapidated cottage into flats were turned down.

John Dawson had applied to build a two-storey extension and convert Elizabeth Cottage, in High Street, Billericay, into six two-bed and one one-bed apartments.

However at a planning meeting on Tuesday night, Basildon Council voted to refuse the application on the grounds of “overdevelopment of the site”. This is despite planning officers recommending it was approved.

Councillors do not have to agree with the the recommendation but usually do.

Mr Dawson, of Blackmore, said he was left frustrated by the decision – and thinks it was unfair. He said:

“Everyone in the area just wants something done to the cottage. We would have been quite happy to put the outside back to how it looked in the 1950s. What we were planning is only one metre deeper than what was passed in 2008 and again in 2011. We are not asking for masses more.”

He added that a number of problems were raised during the meeting, including why the windows opened when this wouldn’t have been the style at the time.

However, Mr Dawson said that this was to provide people with a fire escape and was a building regulation. He added that he would take the matter to appeal and was confident he would win.

He said:

“That is going to take another six to eight months with the building empty. There was no reason why it was not passed. After they decided to object to it, they then spent ten minutes trying to decide what they should refuse it under and decided on “overdevelopment of the area It is very frustrating.”

The cottage fell into a state of disrepair after the owners began demolishing it without permission, ripping off the roof. The council stepped in, spending over £28,000 weather proofing the building and protecting it from further damage.

The council then obtained power of sale from the Land Registry, after two years of failed attempts to get in touch with the owners. It then sold the cottage at auction.

The Echo exclusively revealed the state of Elizabeth Cottage earlier this year.

Photos obtained by the paper showed that the inside of the property was in a terrible condition, with floorboards damaged and missing, the ceiling falling apart and rubbish strewn everywhere.

Basildon Council was contacted for comment but did not respond before the paper went to press.

Article by  Gary Pearson, The Echo

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