A leading councillor for regeneration and planning has pledged to take action to safeguard an historic Billericay building.
Elizabeth Cottage, in Billericay High Street, has been the subject of a lengthy planning dispute after the building’s owners began knocking it down without permission and failed to comply with an enforcement notice to mend the roof and weatherproof it.
Basildon Council is currently in the process of compiling a report on Elizabeth Cottage, which dates back to 1903. The report that will detail what further options are available is expected to be submitted to the planning committee early next year.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Cllr Dr Richard Moore, cabinet member for regeneration and planning"]It is unacceptable that an owner should ignore the law and ride roughshod over Billericay’s Conservation Area. The residents of Billericay are demanding action to address this flouting of the law. The Council has had to follow a lengthy legal process to prevent the demolition of this building and authority will be sought to take direct action to weatherproof the building and make it secure and to recharge the costs to the owner.[/quote]
Elizabeth Cottage occupies the southern side of the Norsey Road/High Street junction in Billericay. It is in the Billericay Conservation Area.
Building dates back to 1903, with a cement render and had a tiled roof. The building has been empty for many years.
Basildon Council did give planning permission some years ago to convert the ground floor into retail units with residential flats above. This permission was renewed but expired in March this year.
Elizabeth Cottage was identified in Basildon Council’s Billericay Conservation Area Management Plan as the building “most at risk” within the Conservation Area. The building is of a design and character in the street scene that makes a positive contribution to the appearance of the Billericay Conservation Area.
In January this year the owners started demolishing the building. The Council took action by serving the owner with a Temporary Stop Notice to cease the unauthorised demolition of a building in the Conservation Area.
The Council subsequently made an application to Chelmsford County Court for a Court Order to stop any further demolition works at the property. The Injunction Order was confirmed at a Hearing on February 13, 2014. The property owner did not attend court to defend himself or try to get theInjunction Order overturned. The Injunction Order remains in force until further order or an application is made to the Court to withdraw it. Breach of the Injunction Order is a criminal offence and contempt of court.
The Council has, therefore, prevented the demolition of the building.
An Enforcement Notice was subsequently issued by the Council that required the owners to:
- Weatherproof the building with a robust tarpaulin material, and
- Secure with boarding all windows and openings.
The notice stipulated that both of these requirements be carried out within one month of the notice coming into effect. The Enforcement Notice came into effect on July 10, 2014 following the owner’s failure to exercise their right of appeal.
Additional requirements were ordered to be completed within three months of the notice coming into effect. These were:
- Replace all the original roof tiles;
- Rebuild the chimney to match the existing remaining chimney;
- Restore the building to its former condition.
The owner was in breach of the Enforcement Notice after October 10, 2014.
Information from Basildon Council, image by Echo News