City of Ely Council move towards ‘in principle’ agreement on Market Place flats but East Cambs Trading fears disruption to £5m a year markets income
- Credit: Archant
A clock – plus requested amendments to rid the design of its ‘blandness’ – has swung City of Ely Council towards supporting the multi million development of 12 luxury flats in the market place.
They will be created by adding two further storeys to the two storey existing building with parking provided at a Fore Hill site which is owned by the developers.
The city council told East Cambs planners in May of their concerns over the “height and blandness” of the proposed flats and called for a design they felt should be “sympathetic and in keeping with the surrounding area”.
But now, in a second letter to planners, they’ve acknowledged that “the City of Ely Council, in principle, is in favour of this development in order to replace the eyesore that exists on the market place”.
Council clerk Tracey Coulson summarised the city council’s latest view in an email to East Cambs Council in which says they are “pleased to note that amendments have been requested by the planning department to rectify this image. This could also be alleviated by tasteful artwork or features, such as a clock.
“We look forward to seeing the plans.”
Ms Coulson said a major concern of the city council was over the management and storage of refuse as they did not want bins and rubbish to be left outside other than for immediate collections.
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She said it had not been considered within the planning application and the city council noted there was no mention of renovating the shops below “and it was felt that they would not be in keeping with the proposed development”.
Her views on the latest proposals by developers Rannerlow are not universally shared with other consultees – not least the district council’s East Cambs Trading Co Ltd which looks after the markets held in the city centre.
The trading company says it is concerned mainly about the construction methodology and the fears that building work will have a “serious social and economic detriment on Ely markets”.
East Cambs Trading says they operate Ely markets that generate a turnover of more than £5 million a year with customers going on to spend a further £9 million in local shops.
“It is not possible for me to assess the level of impact of this development will have on the operation of Ely markets,” says chief executive John Hill.
He says it is essential to know where the crane would be located, where the site compound is proposed, how construction traffic will access the site, which days building work will be carried out and a proposed time table for construction.
He says that “until this information is received, I have no option but to object to the proposed development as it may have a detrimental economic impact on Ely markets”.
Many other traders are among the comments piling into East Cambs Council raising questions – and mainly objections- to the proposed development.
Nancy De Cleir of the Ely Gin Company at Buttermarket also raised numerous issues about possible disruption during building work.
“I feel that the submitted planning application is highly insufficient and needs to deliver a lot more details,” she says.
Susanne Stent, a director of Silver Oak Coffee Ltd and is a regular stallholder on the market says she is “devastated that our business is going to be jeopardised by the substantial construction work that this proposal would mean”.
She warned that people would not want to sit out and drink and eat “in a dusty unattractive environment and this draw to the city will be destroyed just as it is gaining momentum”.
Market trader Peter Smith said the building work, restricted access and disruption would make Ely “an unattractive option for shoppers and visitors”.
Wood Green Animal Shelter occupies one of the shops beneath the proposed development and whilst not objecting to the flats say they, too, share concerns about disruption to trading and particularly scaffolding round the site which can be “extremely damaging to footfall”.
A couple wrote to complain that they felt the re-development of the 1960s market place was a fantastic opportunity to create high quality design but “we feel the current proposal does not deliver this. The overall appearance is that of a bland building which could be placed anywhere in the country”.
They argue the design strategy appears to comprise of nothing more than adding to an existing building, filling the whole footprint of the plot and increasing its height, then simply adding on cornices, stone cladding, sash windows and a clock but throwing in modern features such as glazed balustrades with stainless steel railing, Juliet balconies and French doors.
“These produce a confusing and strange of mix of materials and surfaces which do not relate to the greater surroundings of the market place,” they claim.
Rannerlow says the current building displays the 1960’s architecture that is out of character in terms of the surroundings and does not provide “a welcoming feel nor does it befit the prestige of this location”.
They claim the proposed building “provides a link to the architectural period that surrounds the market place with its Georgian windows, stone cills and rendered façade.
“It then blends our modern era of architecture with the use of glass balustrading and zinc cladding.”
Rannerlow say they are seeking to “compromise and provide a building that respects the site’s historic past and surrounding listed buildings but does not hide the fact that we are in 2017.
“It is therefore considered that the proposed scheme has a positive impact upon the existing asset and a much wider benefit in terms of the surrounding setting”.