Tea rooms may become a bedsit

former samovar tea rooms

It approval rating by Trip Adviser achieved a staggering 94 per cent 'excellent' or 'very good' rating but the pandemic ended it all. Now Samovar in Ely could be turned into a bedsit. - Credit: Samovar

It’s been marketed unsuccessfully for a year and the owner now wants to turn the former Samovar tea house, Ely, into a small flat.  

Jenny Burgoyne has asked East Cambs Council for permission to convert 23 Forehill into a single bed sit. 

The former tea rooms closed in early 2020 because of the pandemic but Samovar lives on – it has become a successful online shop, mainly sellling loose leaf tea. 

"The ground floor can be converted with a minimum intervention to provide accessible accommodation,” the council was told. 

“And the upper apartment can be let to provide income. This change of use will not obviate the possibility of the shop being re-instated in the future”.  


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Noting that the building is located “towards the edge of the secondary shopping frontage of Ely” she is not expecting opposition to her plans. 

Planners received the application three weeks ago and, so far, there have been no objections.  

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Sofia and Lizzy who ran Samovar for more than eight years announced last year Covid-19 had prompted them to close the café. 

“We had been busier than ever for quite some time at that point, with regular queues out of the door,” they posted on their blog. 

"At the beginning of the year, we had just spent a bit of time renovating to make the space more effective for the large number of visitors we were experiencing! 

“Weirdly, we had discussed ages ago what we would do if a pandemic ever happened, and had always known we would immediately close to protect everyone.” 

But they also added that their café was in “an extremely old, narrow building which made for a wonderfully cosy and atmospheric space in the pre-Covid era”. 

However, there was no chance it could function in a safe way with a pandemic going on.  

“It would have been a health and safety nightmare to attempt to keep the building open to the public,” they wrote. 

They both agree moving online has been “a really exciting opportunity for us”. 

They added: “We’re really lucky to be in a position to be able to do this, and for it to be going really well. 

“As such, we won’t be reopening our Ely café.” 

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