Article by Matthew Critchell: A landmark building could be sold off at auction after over £28,000 of taxpayers money was spent saving it from irreparable damage.
Basildon Council wants to sell off Elizabeth Cottage, at the junction of Norsey Road and Billericay High Street, to cover debts it has racked up safeguarding the building from the elements.
The authority has applied to the Land Registry to obtain power of sale, after two years of failed attempts to get in touch with the owners. The cottage, which dates back to the 1900s, fell into a state of disrepair after the owners began demolishing it without permission, ripping off the roof.
Basildon Council was forced to step in, spending over £28,000 weather proofing the building and protecting it from further damage.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Richard Moore, councillor responsible for planning and regeneration"]My real wish is that the owners come forward and take responsibility for their property. All the council is trying to do is to stop the building from being demolished. It is so frustrating for the council and for the residents who are very passionate about Billericay. If it is sold off at auction to a developer I would like any developer or company to look to build something that keeps the same look of the building and something that is in keeping with the area.[/quote]
Billericay town councillor Colin Dyer said Elizabeth Cottage has become an "eyesore."
He said he would like the former Quaker site, which was last used as a house in the Seventies, to be restored to its former glory.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted byColin Dyer"]I understand that the owners are refusing to take the action needed and so the other option for Basildon Council would be legal action against the owners of the building. I do think it is has become a total eyesore and I think I echo the other town councillors when I say that. I would like to see the cottage renovated back to its original state.[/quote]
Bob Reeves, from the Billericay Society, which has campaigned to save Elizabeth Cottage, said his gut feeling is that the building will be pulled down.to make way for a new development. He hopes that something can be done with the building.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Bob Reeves"]Basildon Council has done a lot of work and I think it is important that we do preserve the cottage as it is a prominent building on the High Street. It is often one of the first things that people see when they come to Wickford especially from the train station. I think this will drag on for some time as I can’t see a quick resolution to this problem.[/quote]
Read original by Matthew Critchell, The Echo