Row over demolition of derelict Billericay building

Southend Standard: Row over demolition of derelict building Row over demolition of derelict building

A LANDMARK building is being torn down by its owners without permission.

Court action is being taken against developers illegally demolishing Elizabeth Cottage, in High Street, Billericay.

The owners of the 100-year-old building have ripped off its roof without planning permission – leaving it open to the elements.

Basildon Council has stepped in and issued a stop notice against unauthorised demolition of the site.

It could result in a conviction and £20,000 fine if breached.

As the temporary order only lasts for one month, the council has also secured a civil injunction with Chelmsford County Court on Thursday to prevent any more work.

Elizabeth Cottage is in a conservation area.

It has been empty since it was last used as a family home almost 40 years ago.

A planning application to regenerate the site was given the thumbs up in 2011, but this was just for a rear extension and internal work.

Billericay businessman Trevor Drape, owner of Cook Shop and Emporium, is worried about lasting damage.

He said: "The council should take every step possible.

“The roof needs to be reinstated immediately to stop the building being completely ruined by rain.

“The best thing that could be done is to take Elizabeth Cottage from the current owners and sell it at a rock-bottom price and have it completely restored.

“I believe the town as a whole thinks what these people are doing is flouting all the rules and regulations which most honourable people have to adhere to.”

Ian Davie, chairman of the planning committee at Billericay Town Council, shared his concerns.

He said: “We are very conscious of the conservation area which Elizabeth Cottage is part of, and we do our best to preserve it.

“It seems there are two possibilities.

One is forthe owners restore the building to its original condition or they go down the planning permission route.

“The roof may well be rotting, but any replacement needs to conform to the original design.

“The building was already deteriorating gradually anyway, but now it is going to deteriorate rapidly with all this wet weather.”

The enforcement notice was issued on January 29.

A spokesman for Basildon Council said: “Planning permission has been granted to convert and extend this building, not to demolish it completely, because it is considered to add to the special character and appearance of the Billericay conservation area.

“It is an offence to carry out unauthorised demolition in the conservation area where consent is required.

“The cottage is over 100 years old and, although not listed, is of an age and character that makes a positive contribution to the appearance of the area.”

The Echo attempted to contact the four owners of Elizabeth Cottage, but was unable to speak with them.

Comments (5)

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4:46pm Tue 18 Feb 14

Howard Cháse says...

Watch out for The Laindon Hotel gambit....
Watch out for The Laindon Hotel gambit.... Howard Cháse
  • Score: 0

4:50pm Tue 18 Feb 14

the25man says...

Well unless the Council or those that think the House needs saving are prepared to pay for restoration then all the present owners have done is speeded up what they want to happen. Ok if they just waited then the place would be such an eye sore it would need to be pulled down
Well unless the Council or those that think the House needs saving are prepared to pay for restoration then all the present owners have done is speeded up what they want to happen. Ok if they just waited then the place would be such an eye sore it would need to be pulled down the25man
  • Score: -5

6:22pm Tue 18 Feb 14

Kim Gandy says...

Stuff the present owners. Obviously urban vandals of the highest order.

Every effort should be made to preserve these old buildings.

Who the hell owns it? I bet it's some nouveau riche Essex wide boy numpty.
Stuff the present owners. Obviously urban vandals of the highest order. Every effort should be made to preserve these old buildings. Who the hell owns it? I bet it's some nouveau riche Essex wide boy numpty. Kim Gandy
  • Score: 8

7:31pm Tue 18 Feb 14

ThurrockResident says...

Some wealthy Tory no-doubt-out to make a quick buck.
Some wealthy Tory no-doubt-out to make a quick buck. ThurrockResident
  • Score: -6

8:09am Wed 19 Feb 14

pembury53 says...

looks like they were just attempting to repair a rotting roof..... hardly 'demolition' or 'tearing it down'......... a few more quid for the council though
looks like they were just attempting to repair a rotting roof..... hardly 'demolition' or 'tearing it down'......... a few more quid for the council though pembury53
  • Score: -6

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