September 18 2014 Latest news:
Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY
Monday, October 7, 2013
Developers unveiled a scheme for 20 starter homes on the site of a Wisbech pub destroyed during a series of arson attacks across the town three years ago.
Eco House Builders believe their proposals can reverse the decline of home ownership in Wisbech which they say has declined dramatically during the recession.
The site has bought the site of the former Blackfriars Arm in St Augustine’s Road which was destroyed by arsonists in September 2013. It remains one of many buildings targeted over a short period that year which also included fires at Constantine House on Nene Quay, the Phoenix Hotel on North Brink, and a cottage in South Brink. Another pub also hit by arsonists, The Flower Pot, has since been re-developed for housing.
Architect Kris Baxter said that before the down turn 95 per cent of their sales were to owner occupiers and five per cent to buy-to-let investors.
In recent years that proportion has shifted dramatically with 70 per cent of their recent sales in Wisbech to buy-to-let investors.
Mr Baxter said by building one bedroom homes with a guide price of £70,000 the company hoped to open up home ownership again to young people.
“House sales to first time buyers in the Fens have dramatically decreased over the past two years despite mortgage rates being at an all time low,” he said. “ Due to the financial downturn, lack of mortgage availability and a requirement for higher deposits, first time buyers are struggling to get on to the housing ladder. This problem is compounded by the Fens being a low wage area.”
Eco House Builders will stage a public exhibition of their proposals for the Blackfriars site between 6pm and 8pm on October 15 at the Boathouse, Wisbech, before submitting a detailed planning application.
Mr Baxter said the site remained derelict three years after the blaze and it had been bought by Eco House Builders “with the concept of providing starter homes for those at the bottom rung of the ladder. The homes will be designed with a mix of contemporary architecture and designed like apartment living but unlike blocks of flat will be freehold and easily mortgageable.”
He said: “It is our intention to redevelop what is currently an eyesore site in a key location within Wisbech, into a modern residential development that local people can afford to live in.”