Housing plan for historic village building

Fenstanton Literary Institute. Picture: GOOGLE

Fenstanton Literary Institute. Picture: GOOGLE - Credit: Archant

An historic building in Fenstanton is set to be turned into a house because its use as a public hall is no longer considered viable.

The trust which owns Fenstanton Literary Institute is concerned that ongoing development in the village - including a new village hall - will make it even less attractive to potential hirers.

Now the trustees of the institute have applied to Huntingdonshire District Council to convert the building, in Green Lane, into a house and to remove the fire escape from the upper floor.

The building, which is in the village conservation area, dates back to the 1850s and was rebuilt in the 1880s. It would have originally been used to boost literacy in the community and as a recreational space but subsequently became a home for community groups.

However, the institute is now only used four evenings a week by a scout group which is looking for a new base and a school club, which occupied it during the day, pulled out more than a year ago.

A statement in the trustees' planning application said: "Therefore there is no functional use at all, which is unviable given the costs associated with maintaining the building."

It said a new village hall, with parking and open space for community use had been given the go-ahead as part of a major development scheme in the village.

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The statement said the district council had set out the view that there was likely to be insufficient community use for the hall as a venue for hire, coupled with the availability of the Church Centre and the new village hall. The institute hall would also continue to need maintenance.

It said: "The proposal will make more efficient use of the previously developed land and ensure the building has a viable use."

The statement added: "The conversion of Fenstanton Literary Institute into a dwelling will enable sympathetic conversion.

"The only external changes involve removal of the external staircase on the north-west elevation which is an unattractive feature.

"Removing the staircase and changing the doors to a window to match the existing windows will enhance the appearance of the building and wider conservation area."