Two historic cottages in Haverhill have been bought and are now set to be renovated by their new owner and brought back into use.
Numbers 85 and 87 High Street sold at auction for £51,000 on Tuesday (December 17) after housing developer Havebury had previously seen its plans to demolish them blocked by St Edmundsbury Council.
Though the buyer has yet to be revealed, Mark Willett, regional manager for Suffolk and north Essex for Auction House East Anglia, said: “A local gentleman who is a buolder bought the cottages and it is his intention to renovate them and bring them back to the housing sector.”
Havebury Housing Partnership sought to destroy the two cottages, which are almost 200 years old, to build six new one bedroom flats.
Those plans were narrowly blocked by the council’s development control committee, and a decision on whether to allow the plans to build four flats in the spacious garden within the grounds of the properties was delayed until after a site visit today (Thursday, December 19).
Once plans are modified to remove the demoliton and approved for the four garden flats, the sale of the two homes (the garden was not included) will go through, which is expected to happen by April 17 at the latest.
A stipulation of the auction was that refurbishment, expected to cost around £130,000, must begin within six months of purchase and be completed within 18 months.
Residents John Burns and Jason Crooks, along with Suffolk County Councillor Tony Brown, all opposed Havebury’s original plans.
The trio felt this had been a ‘good compromise’, with Havebury saying had the cottages not sold and demolition gone ahead they would have endeavoured to preserve as many artefacts as possible.
“I’m absolutely delighted that the cottages have been sold for renovation and a part of Haverhill’s heritage has been protected for future generations to enjoy,” said Mr Crooks.
Mr Crooks began researching the cottages after Havebury’s plans were submitted in May, and found a photo of them from 1868.
Although English Heritage did not list the cottages, it did declare them as ‘of local historical interest’, and Suffolk County Council’s archaeological team called the cottages ‘rare survivors’ and dated them to pre-1820.
English Heritage said it was ‘fantastic news’ that the cottages would not be demolished, and said: “We all hope that the cottages will survive any appeals, and can be safely incorporated into the community heritage of Haverhill for future generations to enjoy.”
Havebury’s director of resources Paul Edwards said: “Following the auction we look forward to receiving planning permission so that we can deliver affordable homes on the remainder of the site and the sale of the cottages can proceed.”
Havebury chief executive Karen Mayhew added: “We are still as committed as evet to providing much need affordable homes and are looking for the simplist solution to do that.”
St Edmundsbury Councillor Gordon Cox, who opposed the original plans, said: “It’s excellent news and now hopefully the cottages can be restored to their former glory and a lot of credit should go to Mr Jason Crooks for his commitment and research into the cottages.
“Perhaps now also Havebury will now withdraw their application which included demolition of the two cottages and come forward at a later date with a more sensible design which is more complimentary to that conservation area and obviously leaving out the demolition aspect of these two cottages.”
Matthew Hancock MP opened Havebury’s new High Street offices on June 7, describing Havebury as ‘a force for good in Haverhill’.
The £1.2 million development on the former derelict carpet shop comprises of five one-bedroom flats, two two-bedroom flats and the new offices, built over three storeys.
Video courtesy of Auction House East Anglia.
For all the latest news see today’s (Thursday, December 19) Echo.