Council’s own conservation officer among critics of East Cambs proposals for 11 homes at Barton Road, Ely

View shows the proposed six terraced houses on Barton Road, the rear access to these properties and

View shows the proposed six terraced houses on Barton Road, the rear access to these properties and to the public car park. Shown on the right is the building that is partitioned to create five apartments. - Credit: Archant

Eleven homes planned by East Cambs Council on the Barton Road car park have been criticised by their conservation officer.

Plan - phase II.

Plan - phase II. - Credit: Archant

A report recommending approval of the scheme is due before the planning committee next week.

However among numerous objections is strongly worded opposition from the conservation officer fearful that it does not “protect views of the cathedral”.

The officer also says that “by virtue of its overly formal Georgian” design the plans neither “preserve nor enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area”.

And in a further stinging rebuke the conservation officer adds: “It is not believed that sufficient justification has been given to show why this design solution is appropriate.” He fears it could harm the conservation area.

Other critics include City of Ely Council that is concerned about the “unacceptable” loss of coach parking spaces of loss of Poets House car parking spaces. The city council believes the district council is proposing homes that “are too tall, out of character with the area and too close to the highway”.

And referring to a space allocated for coaches to turn the city council says the proposed coach space is in “a very awkward position” and turning would be difficult and chaos would ensure if it a second coach arrives with that space already occupied.

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Highways officials, too, have expressed concerns over the coach drop off space and are particularly worried that not enough thought has been given to various sized coaches that might want to use the space.

The district council is hoping for a £1.7million profit from the scheme with the proceeds becoming available to help with capital projects such as the new leisure centre.

Councillors will be told that many residents have also objected to the scheme, citing safety, parking, tourism, visual impact, residential amenity and concern over the fact that the district council is itself the determining body for its own application.

In a report to the committee officers note that “the Secretary of State may wish to call the application in”.

In its conclusion officers say “the proposed development will have a negative impact upon the amount of public parking space within Ely. This is likely to lead to minor harm to the economic output of Ely (moderate if parking issues become increasingly difficult).

“However even with the combined harm to the settings of the listed buildings/conservation area, the level of harm is considered to be less than substantial and it would not demonstrably and significantly outweigh the public benefits of 11 new dwellings”.

The committee will meet next Wednesday at 2pm.