Plans to renovate High Street shops hit snag as council objects

RENOVATION plans for a shop in need of “significant investment” on Ely’s High Street look to have hit a snag after the City of Ely Council objected to part of the application.

Southminster House and the former Sue Ryder Charity Shop, in High Street, have sat empty since the charity moved to new premises in The Cloisters but are in a poor state of repair and in need of complete renovation.

In May, landlord Bertie Vince entered plans to remove and replace the crumbling wooden shopfronts with new painted timber units to encourage new tenants.

In a separate application, Mr Vince also applied to remove a redundant chimney stack from above the roofline of the shops and an adjoining property, Southminster House, in High Street Back.

Mr Vince told planners: “The building is currently unoccupied and in need of complete renovation to bring it back into use.

“The chimney stack represents a significant maintenance burden and its location means that this is difficult to achieve.

“As the building is currently unsuitable for renovation/conversion due to the significant investment required, it is considered that the removal of the external portion of the chimney stack will remove the risk of accidental damage.”

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Though it welcomed plans for the new shop fronts, the city council demanded that the plans for the chimney be refused due to “the affect on the visual impact of the High Street, if this stack was removed.”

Architects behind the plans disagreed however, saying: “The simple removal of this chimney will allow the applicant to properly weatherproof the building and allow it to survive.”

The decision however, will now go to officials at East Cambridgeshire District Council, who are expected to make a decision within the next four weeks. To view the plans, or to have your say, visit