Fears Wisbech’s oldest house could be lost after vandalism, fire, flytipping and drug abuse
PUBLISHED: 12:39 26 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:23 01 July 2019
An historic house in Wisbech which is one of the town’s oldest buildings could be closed after it has been vandalised by squatters.
The dilapidated Grade II listed Ely House, in Lynn Road, has now been boarded up after shocking images appeared online showing the state of the inside.
Last night a large shed in the grounds caught fire, leaving just charred remains outside.
It is a sorry state from how the 17th century property looked in 2017 when hundreds attended an open day ahead of a potential sale.
Elegant rooms with period features now appear to have been taken over with beds, empty beer cans and drugs paraphernalia.
Chunks of brickwork have been knocked out of the walls and fittings tore from the ceilings.
Bags of rubbish and flytipping have also been left in the outbuildings, causing rats to infest the site.
Fenland District Council say that it is a "difficult situation" but are pursing the property owner to ensure more damage isn't caused to the building.
But Councillor Dave Patrick said he didn't think they were acting quickly enough - putting the property at risk of being lost forever.
"If we don't act soon we will lose it, squatters are in there and the interior has been damaged and drug taking it's going on in the house," he said.
Dozens of people commented on a social media post with pictures of the inside taken by former Wisbech resident Bernie Smith.
One person commented: "Such a shame for such a landmark house we need something to be done very quickly.
"It is disgusting that people are living like this.
"It's difficult to decide what the problem actually is, whether it's the misuse of an historic building, which has been left to rot, or homelessness and drug and alcohol abuse."
While another person added: "And now the shed has gone up in flames putting people in the nearby houses at risk."
It is understood that an offer of a sale at the end of last year has not yet been completed.
A Fenland District Council spokesman said: "Ely House is in private ownership and it is the responsibility of those owners to ensure that the building and its surroundings are kept in a safe and secure condition.
"However, we recognise that Ely House is a grade II listed building and we have an active interest in ensuring its preservation for the future, as well as addressing the complex issues on the site.
"A number of our councillors have raised the issue and are assisting the council to do everything within its legal power to resolve matters and take urgent remedial action which will be charged to the property owner."