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Approval for home plan for county charity's headquarters in Chatteris

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A county-wide charity based in Chatteris has been granted planning permission to convert its head offices into one four/five bedroom home.

The latest planning permission given to Age UK Cambridgeshire and Peterborough follows previous approval to convert its headquarters at 2 Victoria Street into three homes.

Melanie Wicklen applied for approval on behalf of the charity from Fenland District Council and the move has been welcomed by neighbours to the property and also the council's own conservation officer.

Plans to convert the Age Concern Cambridgeshire offices in Chatteris into four/five bedroom home have been approved.
Plans to convert the Age Concern Cambridgeshire offices in Chatteris into four/five bedroom home have been approved.

It means Age UK now has three years to decide what it wants to do with the building which was described during the previous planning application process as "not fit for purpose" by Ms Wicklen.

Chatteris Town Council had objected to the plans to convert the offices into one two bedroom home and two flats, one with one bedroom the other with two.

However, no comment from the council on the latest application was included in planning documents on Fenland's planning portal.

Fenland's conservation officer however did comment and said: "I would welcome the change of use of this building from offices back to a single family dwelling. There will be no structural alterations arising from this change of use, and therefore the only impact on the character and appearance of the conservation area should be incidental positive ones with for instance, the removal posters, signs, and potentially the white parking barriers to the front elevation."

He did however have some reservations about the introduction of an en-suite with toilet to the first floor.

He said: "There are currently no waste pipes or drainage to the front elevation of the property, so it is not clear how the current kitchen, or indeed the proposed en-suite is to function in this location. The introduction of a soil vent pipe to the front elevation would detract from the symmetry and architecture of the building itself and present an unsightly feature to the conservation area."

Adding there was a need for clarification on this point.

Neighbour Sonia Reynolds said: "I was relieved to receive a letter informing me of the intention to convert this beautiful building into a single dwelling. It will make a gorgeous home and I have no objections to the conversion into a single dwelling. I do however have some concerns around the design of the rear of the property."

She was concerned about parking and the possibility of the garden being used as a car park and also possible noise disturbance from a first floor balcony included in the new plans to the rear of the property.

Cambridgeshire Highways in their comments confirmed the location as appropriate for residential use stating parking controls within the vicinity of the site could manage potential instances of inappropriate parking.

Ms Wicklen had previously explained Age UK Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, which she said was an independent local charity, had been considering its office presence within the county for sometime.

She said the charity has several offices across the county, but the Chatteris premises are the head office and is, under normal circumstances, the workplace of 15 staff members. The charity also runs day centres in Chatteris, March, Wisbech and Cambridge.

Ms Wicklen said the charity had drawn up a five year strategy in 2019 to look at how it could increase support for older people. As part of that they had looked at everything including office space, and had concluded the Chatteris building was no longer suitable for the charity’s aims."

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