The owners of a historic building that has fallen into disrepair and is blighting the Billericay conservation area are being urged to come forward.
Elizabeth Cottage in Billericay High Street has no roof and significant structural issues after an unlawful attempt to demolish it was stopped midway through.
Basildon Council, which was behind the injunction, is now considering what action to take to preserve the 1903 building at the northern entrance to Billericay.
Richard Moore, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration and planning, said the planning committee agreed a way forward at a meeting held last week.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Councillor Richard Moore"]The council now has a range of options available and can progress with or without the owner’s cooperation or consent. Obviously we would prefer to work with the owner to resolve the issue but doing nothing is simply not an option. The council will, if necessary, take action against illegal development such as demolishing a building in a conservation area without permission.[/quote]
The committee resolved to delegate authority to council officers to undertake urgent works to protect the building from further decay.
Other options, including compulsory purchase to bring about the restoration and reuse of the building, are also being explored.
Council officers are warning that compulsory purchase is most likely the only economic option available if the owners fail to cooperate.
The cost of weatherproofing the building and other work is recoverable from the owners who are known to the council but are out of reach.
The building is not listed but it is seen as of local historic value and part of the character of the town.