Plans that could see the former Fenland Citizen offices on March Market Place demolished have angered residents who have launched a petition to save the building.
Jennifer Lawler, of The March Society, said people are angry that the developer has changed his mind over renovating the offices, a building said to be the oldest on the Market Place dating back to 1670.
The building, which is linked to the Griffin Hotel, stands in the town’s conservation area, but is not listed despite its heritage.
Mrs Lawler believes the oversight is down to 26 Market Place being joined to the hotel, which is listed.
“I believe it was considerd part of the hotel and would be listed as result of that. However, Fenland’s conservation officers do consider it a ‘building of local interest’ which makes a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the conservation area,” she said.
Aaron Talbot of Ely-based Aitus Investments Ltd has applied to demolish the building, which has been identified as a late medieval baffle-entry building with original chimney stack, and rebuild five flats set over three storeys on the site.
His application includes an engineers report produced by Morton Hall Consulting which concludes the current state of the premises makes it unviable for renovation and says demolition is the only answer.
However, Mrs Lawler said a successful application by Mr Talbot to restore the building was successfully approved last year and she wants to know why there has now been a change of heart.
She said members of March Society have launched a petition in a bid to save the building and said many of those signing had told her they wanted to see the building restored.
Mrs Lawler added: “If Mr Talbot believes it is not viable to restore the building then he should consider selling it to someone who is willing to take it on and renovate it themselves. Seeing it demolished would be a terrible loss to the town and to the Market Place”.
She urges everyone to write to Fenland council by next Thursday (8) to object to the proposals.