Brother and sister’s battle to get permission so they can replace family home in Soham

East Cambridgeshire District Council

East Cambridgeshire District Council - Credit: Archant

A brother and sister are trying to prove their grandmother’s old home is not a “derelict” building so they can knock it down and build a new home for future generations of the family.

Jane Ambrose, of Wilburton Road, Stretham, and her brother Adam want to replace two cottages at 20 The Cotes, Soham.

Their grandparents and great-grandparents lived in one of the 18th century cottages from 1948 to 2002 - during that time, the site was used as a house, garden and smallholding.

In recent years, despite the applicants’ attempts to secure the site, it has become a target for vandals.

However, they have been unable to secure planning permission from East Cambridgeshire District Council to build a replacement home.

In an attempt to prove the site has not been abandoned, they have submitted statements from neighbours stating the site was occupied until 2002, and it has been the family’s intention to “restore and modernise” it.

The supporting statement says: “Since the applicant’s grandmother vacated the property in 2002-3, the applicants have invested time and money in an attempt to gain planning permission for a replacement dwelling.

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“It has failed to materialise for various reasons which include a lack of clarity over the historical value of the building, changes in planning officer’s and a general lack of communication between the conservation officer and planning officer(s) at the council.

“The applicants have continued to insure the cottages and pay drainage rates in anticipation of the site being reused as a residential dwelling in the future.

“Over the last few years there have been several burglaries and vandalism and the cottages are becoming increasingly dangerous, despite the applicants attempts at securing the site.

“With this in mind, plus the historic family connection with the building, the applicants would like to now build a replacement dwelling so the site can be enjoyed by their family and future occupants for generations to come.

“In terms of abandonment, the applicants’ acknowledge the cottages have not been used since 2002-3 and the building requires modernisation.

“Mr and Mrs Ambrose have had the clear intention to reuse the building for its lawful use, yet due to a number of events, this has not occurred or has been prevented. At no time has there been a deliberate intention to cease the residential use.”