'Bubble wrap' Gothic House an eyesore say villagers

Gothic House, Cottenham, which was subject of enforcement action four years ago

Gothic House, Cottenham, which was subject of enforcement action four years ago - Credit: Andrew Rowson

Purists were in self-congratulatory mood when a couple were fined for failing to repair a historic house but four years on doubts have emerged.  

For Gothic House, Cottenham, is now cocooned in what residents describe as ‘bubble wrap’ with many wanting action to deal with the eyesore on their High Street. 

“The plastic wrap is degrading and tiny pieces are gathering in the road and surrounding areas” says one resident.  

“It's not great for the environment”. 

In 1984, Historic England listed the Grade 11 house and in 2018 it became subject to enforcement action by South Cambridgeshire District Council. 

The owners were ordered to pay more than £1,100 in fines and costs for not carrying out essential repairs to stop the house – built in the 1730s - from falling into disrepair. 

The council decided to prosecute the owners because of the dilapidated condition of house. 

Most Read

The council said crumbling masonry and broken glass could pose a risk to the public if action wasn’t taken. 

As evidenced by the photos, the house has been secured but residents want the issue resolved.  

Some are calling for letters to go into the council complaining about lack of progress and asking what can be done.  

It’s a far cry from four years ago when the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) backed the council for using “the full range of enforcement powers” to prosecute the owners.  

The HB said: “Untidy sites notices (S.215 of the 1990 Planning Act) have long been held to be applicable to buildings as well as to land. 

“But the powers not used as often as they might be where listed buildings are sliding towards being categorised as ‘at risk’’. 

“Furthermore, recovery of a council’s costs in default is also generally straightforward. 

Couple fined for allowing a Gothic house in Cottenham High Street to fall into disrepair.

A couple were fined for allowing this Gothic house in Cottenham High Street to fall into disrepair. - Credit: Archant

“South Cambridgeshire Council should be commended for their action in this case on a building clearly of special architectural merit.” 

Although we haven’t been able to speak the owners, they are not without sympathy in the village.  

Gothic House, Cottenham in the early 1900s

Gothic House, Cottenham in the early 1900s - Credit: CCC archives

Some feel that if the costs of repair are proving prohibitive, it didn’t help bringing them before a court and fining them.  

Gothic House, Cottenham, which was subject of enforcement action four years ago

Gothic House, Cottenham, which was subject of enforcement action four years ago - Credit: Andrew Rowson

Historians suggest the house was “Gothicised” in the late 19th century by the then owner Robert Ivatt as a display of his wealth.