The former Fenland Citizen office on March Market Place is facing demolition with plans to rebuild flats on the site.
Aaron Talbot, of Ely-based Aitus Investments Ltd, has applied to Fenland District Council for permission to demolish the building, which in parts may date back over 350 years, a rebuild five flats set over three storeys.
The application has been submitted alongside a detailed engineer’s report carried out by Morton Hall Consulting, a design statement by Peter Humphrey Associates and a conservation area statement.
The building at 26 Market Place, is linked to the Griffin Hotel by a bridge and that was used to enable the hotel to make use of rooms on the upper floors, but they have been out of action for many years.
The former newspaper offices have been vacant for around seven years and the engineer’s report found the building to be in a dilapidated state and concludes “to realistically redevelop the property, all that could potentially be retained would be the external walls. These in turn showed significant damp penetration and structural movement.
“Walls were also structurally cracked through. The walls would require underpinning and an appropriate form of underpinning in this area of March would be a mini-piled raft foundation.
“In conclusion it is not therefore economically or structurally viable to consider renovation of the property.”
Although the building is in a conservation area it is not included in Fenland Council’s list of buildings of local interest.
The conservation area statement states: “The building was until recently considered to be included in the listing of the adjacent Griffin Hotel, however the status has now been clarified, with input from English Heritage and No 26 has been confirmed as a separate structure falling outside the Griffin Hotel’s Grade II listing.”
The statement concludes: “In terms of the Conservation Area redevelopment of no 26 Market Place, with a sympathetic structure observing the detail and proportion of the more key elements of the setting will be a positive development and provide the site enhancement noted in the Conservation Area appraisal.
“By bringing a currently vacant and deteriorating site back into commercial use, the proposals will enhance the environment of the market square and improve the overall viability of the area with a quality, sympathetically designed new small development.”