Plans for new council offices could be refused

“UGLY” new offices for the City of Ely Council look set to be thrown out after residents said they were horrified by the design.

The L-shaped building at Ely Cemetery, in New Barns Road, was dubbed “undistinguished and unnecessary” by neighbours who criticised its “domineering appearance and scale”.

“The proposed building is so large surplus space will be let commercially, with adverse effect on highway safety,” one person said.

Residents also mocked the apparent botched planning application, by Tony Walton Design, which was reportedly littered with spelling mistakes, suggested the design team was based in Afghanistan and included no first floor plan.

“The industrial-style building is ugly, undistinguished, unnecessary and inappropriate for its location, involving the loss of important open space,” a respondent said.

“It adversely impacts on longer distance views of the Cathedral and will cause permanent, lasting damage to the dignity of the cemetery and the setting of the unique “twin” chapel buildings at its heart.

“The proposal is wholly unacceptable.”

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East Cambridgeshire District Council has backed residents and recommended refusal of the site.

“For a public building as it is intended to be, it might reasonably be expected to exhibit a more interesting and welcoming street facade,” officers said in conclusion.

However Deputy Mayor John Yates has urged the authority to reconsider because of the council’s urgent need for new premises.

“The City of Ely Council operates from premises in Market Street and employs three part-time staff,” he said.

“The office area is extremely constrained. There is also no room for any increase in staff that may be required as Ely expands over the coming years and the council takes on more functions and responsibilities.

“The current facilities are not fit for any future purpose and, within the foreseeable future, alternative premises will have to be sought.

“No other sites, either affordable or available, offer the totality of capacity provided by the chosen site,”