CAMPAIGNERS’ devastation has turned to hope after planners demanded a Grade II-listed building ravaged by fire must be rebuilt.
Havant Borough Council has told the owners of the Railway Cottages in Langstone they must be restored to their ‘likeness’ before they were destroyed in a blaze last month.
The landmark’s demise overnight on December 9 horrified residents on Hayling Island and in Langstone who launched a petition and social media campaign to save it.
Now in their third week, both drives have picked up more than 1,000 backers and campaigners have said they are ‘over the moon’ with the council’s response.
Lynn Tolmon, the joint secretary of the Hayling Island Labour Party, led the Save the Railway Cottages campaign on Facebook.
She said: ‘I’m very relieved because these buildings are important historically and they mean a lot to an awful lot of people.
‘When they burned down it became so clear so quickly that we had to save them so we as a community came together.
‘We stood up for ourselves, told the council this matters and now they have listened our devastation has turned to hope.’
The cottages at 59 and 61 Langstone Road were situated yards from the former Hayling Island branch line – known as the Hayling Billy – and were once home to crossing keepers.
It is believed they were purchased by private owners shortly before they were destroyed.
The buyers now have just over a year-and-a-half to return them to their condition immediately before they were destroyed.
Havant councillor Narinder Bains, cabinet lead for neighbourhoods, safety and enforcement, said: ‘I can confirm that officers from Havant Borough Council’s planning enforcement team have served a listed building enforcement notice and an enforcement notice to the owners and occupiers of 59 and 61 Langstone Road. This requires both properties to be rebuilt to match in likeness the buildings as they stood immediately prior to their demolition.
‘The notices were served on January 4, 2019 and will take effect on February 14 if they are not appealed to the Planning Inspectorate for consideration. The time for compliance is 18 months from the date the notices take effect.’
She added: ‘As a council we are really passionate about seeing these historical buildings reconstructed as they were an important and unique aspect of the history of Langstone and the Hayling Billy.’
Police said last month the fire which destroyed the Railway Cottages was being treated as arson.