Article by Guy Bell: Billericay's biggest High Street grotspot could be set for demolition, despite hopes to find a developer and restore it to its former glory.
Basildon Borough Council have tried to track down the elusive owners of Elizabeth Cottage and have served them with a £28,000 bill for repair works.
The landmark 1903 building is one of the first many see when driving into the town but it has been in disrepair for 40 years.
Council Leader Phil Turner is now hopeful of a sale and is eager to find a developer capable of transforming the eyesore.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Phil Turner"]The owners haven't taken care of the cottage. We are hoping for a full sale now and, with a bit of luck, we will get owners who will want something in its place that is in keeping with the high street. We had a briefing a while ago and the cottage is not in good shape. It would need taking down to the foundations and that is the problem now. The interior, floors and ceilings aren't looking good and it is looking like it is going to have to be knocked down. You go past a point when putting a roof on it is viable and it just isn't realistic.[/quote]
Cllr Turner revealed he would be open to a development incorporating both a shop and flats, as long as it is in keeping with the theme of the High Street.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Phil Turner"]Elizabeth Cottage is pretty much the thing your eye is drawn to it as you come in from Chelmsford. There are other buildings in the High Street such as Waitrose and the Cookshop that are modern but work. There will be people out there interested in making an investment. Any investment has to work well for everybody. There are some developers out there who could make Elizabeth Cottage look good again and have something that works with the high street. It would be nice to have something that is both retail and residential. If you look at Domino's Pizza that is a shop but there are two flats above it. If you are going to live in that part of the world there will probably be no parking but some people don't need a car. We might get away with something that works aesthetically and serves a purpose as a shop.[/quote]
Any developer looking to take over Elizabeth Cottage is being warned they will have to carry out their own investigation before a rebuilding project can begin.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Phil Turner"]The way the law is we could not have worked any quicker. We have had council officers inside the building and it is looking very much like it will have to be knocked down. When the cover was put on the roof it cost more than it would have normally and they had to make a bridge between the two sides, it was that badly damaged. We expect that the building will have to be taken down. My understanding is the owners have an idea of what they are doing and I would have thought they would be willing to come forward and pick it up again but they haven't. We are hoping we can soon say to residents there is a resolution in sight but it isn't going to be overnight.[quote]
Article by Guy Bell, Brentwood Gazette