1970s Ely office block already on target to be converted to 20 flats could be extended to 27 flats if East Cambs planners agree

PUBLISHED: 15:44 04 April 2019

Flats conversion at Alexander House, Forehill, Ely. No permission needed for 20 but new application will increase number to 27. Picture; AGENTS

Flats conversion at Alexander House, Forehill, Ely. No permission needed for 20 but new application will increase number to 27. Picture; AGENTS

Archant

A 1970s office block in Forehill, Ely, which is already on target to be converted into 20 flats, could have an extra seven added.

Flats conversion at Alexander House, Forehill, Ely. No permission needed for 20 but new application will increase number to 27. Picture; AGENTS Flats conversion at Alexander House, Forehill, Ely. No permission needed for 20 but new application will increase number to 27. Picture; AGENTS

Carter Jones, on behalf of their clients Laragh Developments Ltd, has submitted an application to East Cambridgeshire District Council to add the extra units to Alexander House.

A year ago the council decided no prior approval was needed to convert the existing offices to flats.

However the developers will need permission to convert the under-croft of the existing building to create three ground floor flats with a roof extension for an extra four apartments.

The fresh proposals have not met with widespread approval from City of Ely Council.

Its most recent meeting passed a resolution calling for the new application to be refused “as it falls short of the expected standard and does nothing to enhance the city centre”.

The city council also felt loss of existing car parks spaces would be unacceptable.

“This council does not support the removal of car parking spaces” it has told district planners.

The office block is at the bottom of Forehill at its junction with Broad Street.

Other applications for the building include external works to include recladding to provide new bay windows to replace the oriel windows, new and replacement windows, a revised entrance, and reconfiguration of the car park.

“The existing building can be converted under permitted development rights,” says Carter Jonas.

However they have told planners that the new proposals are necessary “to help secure the renovation and refurbishment of the building and will provide for much needed housing”.

They also feel that the modifications “will enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area”

Carter Jonas is confident at the building will be improved visually and bring to an end what is “perceived to be somewhat of an eyesore given its position within the city”

In its application to the council they described it currently as an “unsightly and imposing building”

Chris Patrick, the council’s conservation officer, says that there are “are undoubtedly many positive aspects to the scheme, and it represents a remarkable transformation of a most unpromising building”

But he says there are “practical conflicts” that should be solved in the design stages “rather than left to the ad hoc improvisations of users”.


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