At last hope that former March night club that has been empty for years could be given a new lease of life

16:24 09 June 2014

Architect's vision of what 38 to 40 High Street March could be like

Architect's vision of what 38 to 40 High Street March could be like

Archant

Up to 15 flats could be built in March if permission to convert a former nightclub and build a separate block of flats to the rear is approved.

38 to 40 High Street March38 to 40 High Street March

A London development company has bought the 19th century former Minstrels nightclub and bar and insist anything less than 15 flats would not be viable.

A previous application approved in 2009 allowed for 10 flats on the site but h and c architects of Balham Hill, London, say the existing planning application would not give sufficient return on the works required.

“In fact it would most probably make a considerable loss,” they have told Fenland Council in their fresh application.

They argue that smaller flats “are proportionally more valuable” than houses and they argue that the increased footprint of the latest plans are only five per cent over that of the existing permission.

Architect's vision of what 38 to 40 High Street March could be likeArchitect's vision of what 38 to 40 High Street March could be like

Poor maintenance since 2006 and being left unoccupied has meant the building needs extensive repair and refurbishment to be brought back into use.

With a listed façade, the new owners have been working with the council’s conservation officer to produce a viable scheme. They have also sought a grant from the council’s renaissance fund for listed buildings.

“This building needs urgent attention which granting the permission would enable,” they say.

No parking is proposed on the site but the developers are claiming exemption on the grounds of the building being within a conservation area, involves a listed building, and their proposals will bring back into use a derelict building.

The back of the building showing where the roof has been removed from the former Minstrels nightclub. Also shows piles of rubbish removed from the building and to the left where the metal safety railing is not securedThe back of the building showing where the roof has been removed from the former Minstrels nightclub. Also shows piles of rubbish removed from the building and to the left where the metal safety railing is not secured

A March take away was forced to close early last Thursday after water entered a roof exposed by contractors working on the former nightclub.

The back of the building showing where the roof has been removed from the former Minstrels nightclub. Also shows piles of rubbish removed from the building and to the left where the metal safety railing is not securedThe back of the building showing where the roof has been removed from the former Minstrels nightclub. Also shows piles of rubbish removed from the building and to the left where the metal safety railing is not secured

Chilli Hut opened for business as usual but soon realised there was a problem with their roof caused by works being undertaken on the empty former Minstrels night club which forms part of the same High Street block.

Builders on site promised to restore the roof quickly to enable Chilli Hut to be back in business.

Councillors have yet to debate the planning application since it has only been put out for comment within the past fortnight.

A builder working on the site said he had been asked to carry out “a soft clearance” of the interior of the former nightclub.

Hary Mahmood, manager, outside Chilli Hut: The adjoining building, formerly Minstrels, is being re developedHary Mahmood, manager, outside Chilli Hut: The adjoining building, formerly Minstrels, is being re developed

Chilli Hut manager Hary Mahmood said: “What they have done is putting my business at risk

“There’s no protection other than a few ceiling tiles so every time it rains it runs into our shop...it is dangerous

“They should have put tarpaulin up to protect the shop.”

The back of the building showing where the roof has been removed from the former Minstrels nightclub. Also shows piles of rubbish removed from the building and to the left where the metal safety railing is not securedThe back of the building showing where the roof has been removed from the former Minstrels nightclub. Also shows piles of rubbish removed from the building and to the left where the metal safety railing is not secured

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