AN eyesore of a building in the heart of Ely s historic conservation area looks set to be demolished after four years of anger and bitter complaint from the community. And the owner of the former grocery shop will face prosecution if work does not begin
AN "eyesore of a building" in the heart of Ely's historic conservation area looks set to be demolished after four years of anger and bitter complaint from the community.
And the owner of the former grocery shop will face prosecution if work does not begin on schedule.
The Market Street building has been abandoned since 2003 and its condition has been the source of much indignation from city officials who say its dilapidated appearance spoils the city centre for tourists and residents alike.
There have also been concerns that the boarded-up building is a fire hazard after passers-by reported that cigarettes were being thrown through its broken windows and on to paper and rubbish inside.
John Borland, who owns the shop with partners, was given a deadline of November last year to begin work at the site to develop the building into a shop unit and first floor flats, but when the date arrived, nothing had been done.
Now Mr Borland has been told by the council's enforcement officer that he faces legal action if he does not stick to his deadline at the end of March for work to begin.
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A Section 215 order has been imposed to ensure the work takes place, and a breach could result in a fine of up to £1,000.
Mr Borland has said initial work will begin on February 19, when hoardings will be put up and half the taxi rank closed to allow the work to go ahead.
Chairman of the City of Ely Perspective Group, Philip Eden, said: "It's about time - that building has been an eyesore for too long and I'm extremely pleased that work will begin.
"It is only a shame that it has taken so long and has taken this much action on the part of the district council."
He added that the building - which was the subject of an article in the Sunday Telegraph last year - had spoilt the appearance of the city centre for the Christmas lights switch-on and Ely's participation in the Anglia in Bloom competition.
Planning committee member, Cllr Gareth Wilson said: "The difficulty with enforcement is that it takes time.
"The building has been a horrible mess for a long time, but Mr Borland has said he is going to do the work in a couple of weeks' time, so we look forward to it."
The work looks set to cause problems for taxi drivers and visitors to Ely when the Market Street taxi rank is halved on February 19.
One driver said weekend nights, when the rank is at its busiest, will be particularly problematic.
"I think they should extend the rank up the road - we can only get four cars on here at the moment," he said, adding that he welcomed the news that the building would be demolished.
"It is an eyesore and if you were a visitor coming to Ely, it's the first thing you face."
Mr Boreland was unavailable for comment when the Ely Standard contacted him.