2017 and the Battle for Croylands starts all over again - to demolish or not that is the question raised by opponents

Croylands, Cambridge Road, Ely

Croylands, Cambridge Road, Ely - Credit: Archant

Developers promised to return with fresh plans and to overcome objections to the demolition of Croylands, a former Victorian vicarage, that they want to replace with nine luxury flats.

The former county council care home at 30 Cambridge Road has been plagued with controversy since it was put up for sale. A bid three years ago by McCarthy & Stone to develop the site was refused for overdevelopment, lack of affordable housing and protection of biodiversity.

Ely Design Group relied partially on planning officer’s reports from the McCarthy & Stone application which confirmed Croylands is not listed and not a suitable candidate for listing. They cited a report claiming the heritage “is formed not only by the building but also by its setting in relatively spacious grounds”.

So confident was Ely Design Group of securing permission they told planners: “we have the benefit of knowing what the objections were from neighbours and statutory consultees - indeed one could say that we have had comprehensive pre application planning advice for this site already”.

However they have been put on the back foot after their scheme received mixed responses – Kevin Evans for the City of Ely Perspective described their proposals as “lacking in imagination, just a reproduction of inappropriate style”.

Neighbour Bill Hunt, a district and county councillor who led the fight against McCarthy & Stone, raised a number of issues.

He said it was concerned about the height, boundaries, lack of opaque glass in windows overlooking his home, and lack of chimneys; these he described as offering “an unfortunate visual impact”.

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He also said Croylands had a 200 year-old history linked to the cathedral and was the only example of the Queen Anne Revival style in Ely and was designed by the celebrated architect William Timbrell Price. Although not listed he said it was likely to be included in an emerging ‘buildings of local interest’ register.

“The house which sits in a total area of very nearly an acre should be retained as a complete asset with both the house and garden preserved for future generations,” he said.

However City of Ely Council said they supported the proposals by Ely Design Group and another near neighbour, John Borland, said he supported “this imaginative and long overdue application”.

Demolition, he said, was the only viable option for this “unremarkable old building”.

Eric Godber said he also supported redevelopment claiming it was “sympathetic and preserves the nature of the conservation area” and delivered the right mix of housing the city needs.

Andrew Turton, also of Cambridge Road, told planners he had some reservations about parking and possible retention of the existing façade, but he felt the scale and type of development proposed “is a significant improvement on previous schemes”.

Kier Petherick of Ely Design Group told planners: “Our aim is to resubmit a new application following the completion of additional reports and timescale within four weeks.”