New plans for Elm’s World War I Memorial Hall include the Old Engine House and will see ‘wreck’ transformed into homes

Elm Church Hall has been a blot on the village landscape for many years after being left unused.
Elm Church Hall has been a blot on the village landscape for many years after being left unused.

Amended plans that include the old Fire Engine House adjoining Elm’s World War I Memorial Hall could finally see the buildings brought back to life.

The hall has been empty for over 14 years and neighbouring residents and the local MP Steve Barclay have branded it a blot on the landscape and have been pushing for action to get it improved.

An artist's impression of how the building will look once work is complete.

An artist's impression of how the building will look once work is complete.

Planning permission has previously been granted for hall, which stands on an island that forms a junction of Rose Lane with Main Road, to be converted into three homes, but they did not include the old Fire Engine House, which also belongs to owner Mr D Housden.

Now an application has been submitted which, if granted, will see the former home of the village fire engine included in the change of use of the old hall into homes.

However, not everyone is 100 per cent happy with the proposal one neighbour has written to the council to express concerns about the amount of parking that will be needed.

The neighbour who lives at Halfpenny House said: “Rose Lane suffers from to many houses with inadequate places for parking. Rose Lane has no room for a pavement, it has 12 cars already and 36 bins not counting our own. Sometimes we cannot see our house for parked vehicles.”

However, they said they are fed-up with staring at a “wreck” and described the hall as being an “appalling tip” ever since it closed.

A report by Fenland Council’s conservation officer Nicola Duncan-Finn says: “Securing a long term sustainable use for both the hall and the former

engine house is now a priority and has resulted in the current submission seeking variation to the approved plans.

“From the conservation perspective it is considered that the residential conversion of the former Engine House sited on a precarious bend in the carriageway provides a logical solution to secure the building’s future sustainable use. The proposal will not result in any external visual alteration to the front elevation of the engine house.”

A planning and design access statement submitted with the update application concludes: “These proposals should be acceptable for the following reasons:

There is sufficient information to understand the impacts of the proposal. They will not harm the values of the place. The quality of design is of value now and in the future. The long term consequences of the proposals are benign.

“We conclude that this scheme will give a viable future to a building that has been unused for many years and this will enhance the Conservation Area.”