On 30 May 2018 The Planning Application for "Part two-storey part single-storey rear extension, alterations and conversion to create 6 no. two-bedroom and 1 no. one-bedroom apartment" was granted on Appeal.
An ongoing saga of No 4 High Street in Billericay which is also known as Elizabeth Cottage.
Residents were particularly interested in what was happening with this Cottage as it has been a feature of the town for many years.
The house, built in 1903 stands on the site of a Quaker chapel that dates back to the 1700s and has been everything from a chapel to a brewery and as such is an integral part to the history of Billericay. Up until about 40 years ago, it was used as a private residence. But it fell into disrepair since becoming empty in the 1970s.
Since then successive owners have sought planning permission to develop the site, which is in the Billericay Conservation Area. Some applications have been granted but not acted upon and others have been refused
In 1986 permission for a two storey rear extension was granted
In 2006 permission to extend and convert property into a three storey block of six 2 bed flats was refused
In 2006 permission for a part single/part two storey rear extension, change of use of ground floor to A1 or A2 (retail/professional services) and conversion of first floor to three flats was refused but granted under appeal in 2007 and the permission was renewed in 2011
In 2009 permission to demolish existing building and construct a replacement building on a like for like basis with a single storey and two storey / rear extension with A1/A2 use at ground floor level and the creation of three residential flats at first floor level was refused and failed to win an appeal.
In February 2014 the owner at the time started to demolish Elizabeth Cottage without permission – the tiles of the roof along with the chimney were removed, causing a lot of damage to the interior. Basildon Council immediately issued a stop notice on the illegal demolition and went through the courts to serve an enforcement notice on the owners, requiring them to restore the building.
The Council was unable to reach the owners, as they had only given their address as the cottage so it used its powers to step in to weatherproof the cottage, spending £28,000 on repairs and protection. In order to recoup the money it had spent on the cottage, the Council applied to the land registry for power of sale.
In 2017 Dawson Developments Limited, based in Blackmore, bought the cottage, at the junction of High Street and Norsey Road, Billericay, for £356,000 at auction. After the council claimed its costs, the remainder of the £356,000 is being held in an account for 12 years in case the previous owner comes forward to claim it. If they don’t come forward after 12 years, the council will be able to use the money.
Meanwhile Dawson Developments applied for planning permission for a part two-storey part single-storey rear extension, alterations and conversion to create 6 no. two-bedroom and 1 no. one-bedroom apartments. This was refused and the appeal is in progress.
The inside of the cottage is in a terrible state - alongside a lot of mess strewn around the ground floor, the floorboards are unsafe and the ceiling is caving in. The garden has also been left unattended and is now seriously overgrown and pigeons occupy the site.
The Cottage continues to be an eyesore and does not give a good impression if anyone enters the town from the bottom of the High Street. We look forward to this saga having a successful ending.