English Heritage gives its support to landmark plans for Ely - but its definitely not the bypass!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
8:30 AM

It may be vehemently opposed to the Ely bypass – but there is one set of plans in the city that have got the backing of English Heritage.

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The City of Ely Council’s application to revamp the former magistrates’ court in Lynn Road has been welcomed by English Heritage officials, who have gone as far as to call the plan “contextually appropriate”.

Heritage official Sheila Stones said: “English Heritage welcomes the proposals which would bring the Grade II listed building back into public use.

“We are satisfied that the alterations would not cause harm to the significance of the building and the design of the new entrance to the rear would be contextually appropriate.”

The public body’s response is in stark contrast to its line on the proposed bypass – which it has said will destroy views of Ely Cathedral.

A large part of the work to transform the magistrates’ court will involve careful restoration, with damp and decay present in large parts of the building.

The city council said in its planning application to East Cambridgeshire District Council that it hoped to dispense with a lot of the modernisation work carried out by the Government back in 1995.

A new kitchenette and toilet block will be installed, the youth court will be refurbished and a new entrance and disabled access will be added.

A first round of plans to transform the Lynn Road court house, which is Grade II listed, were withdrawn in December last year

The City of Ely Council, which took ownership of the building back in March 2013, said it wanted to make tweaks to its plans in light of feedback from the public about disabled access to the building.

The courthouse, which English Heritage say dates back to the 1820s, has stood empty since March 2011 when it was closed by the Ministry of Justice until it was purchased by the city council for a nominal £1 sum.

The authority ultimately plans to re-locate its offices to the courthouse from Market Street.

As part of its wider plan, the council hopes to include other community uses with the building, which could includes a museum and art gallery space, as well as music and concert facilities.

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