Planners decide owner cannot build in garden of unique cottage in Chatteris

BUILDING a mock Tudor home in the garden of a unique and historic Fenland cottage cannot be allowed, planners have decided.

The thatched cottage at 45 West Street, Chatteris, is the only building that survives from a massive fire in 1864 which destroyed that part of the town.

Fenland District Council’s conservation officer says that because of its history the cottage “deserves more respect” than the application allows.

The fire broke out on a farm and caused the death of a seven-year-old girl as well as destroying more than 100 houses.

Owner Stuart Pennington has already extensively refurbished the single storey cottage with attic bedrooms but says the cost has escalated because of the materials and workmanship needed to retain the building’s unique heritage.

Mr Pennington wants to build a two/three bedroom cottage with timber panelling to give a Tudor appearance. In a report agent, E & P Building Design of Mildenhall, said: “The approach that has been adopted in considering this proposal has taken account of the existing listed building on the site and design a building that will complement the existing thatched cottage and enhance the street scene”.

The council received two letters pointing out there would be loss of view and outlook, the plan showed no consideration for the cottage and its national heritage, it represented a full sized family home being crammed in.

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The conservation officer said the cottage had been on the Building at Risk register for more than 10 years. He said: “The proposed new house appears to be more than twice the size of the existing cottage and the scheme will reduce the significance of the listed building to a curtilage structure of the new house. The significance of the listed building is paramount and should not be overwhelmed by a new building erected in its garden plot.

“The historic grain of development along West Street is probably medieval, and has no garden in-fill development. Although the majority of houses are recent (due to the fire of 1862) this is not an acceptable justification for developing the garden of a Grade Two listed dwelling”.

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