Fire-hit village homes to be rebuilt from scratch

Saturday 13th August 2022 6:00 am
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It was proposed the two homes should be completely rebuilt. ()

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TWO village homes badly damaged by fire last December can be knocked down and rebuilt, planners have agreed.

The two semi-detached three-bedroom properties on Court Orchard, Fownhope, were largely destroyed in the blaze, which left two families homeless days before Christmas.

Six fire crews were called to the blaze in a house roof space shortly after 3am on Wednesday, December 8.

The fire quickly spread to the neighbouring property, with Nikki Simmons and her daughter and son losing all their possessions.

A planning application by house owners Connexus Housing, which took over the county council’s housing stock in 2001, proposed that in light of advice from a structural engineer, the two should be completely demolished and rebuilt on a like-for-like basis.

It described the two-storey mansard-roofed building as “typical of the 1930s/1940s suburban developments that occupy many streets in and around Fownhope”.

But the rebuilt houses will be more heat-efficient thanks to better insulation, and will have cycle and bin storage, the application says.

A condition of the approval, which was granted last week, is that water conservation and efficiency measures must also be demonstrated.

Fownhope parish council said the rebuild “could be an opportunity to extend the housing stock to accommodate the need for smaller properties in the parish”, and had urged Connexus to consider rebuilding one of the houses as two single-bedroomed homes.

A Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said after the blaze: “Crews from Hereford, Ross, Fownhope, Whitchurch, Ledbury and Ewyas Harold were called at 3.18am to a house in the village where a fire in the roof space had spread to an adjoining property.

“All residents were able to leave the properties safely.”

Chief Fire Officer Jon Pryce praised the “superb efforts and commitment” of the crews, many of whom had been at Kidderminster the previous day fighting a major blaze on an industrial estate.

Serena Preece later launched a GoFundMe appeal to help Nikki Simmons’ family, which raised more than £2,100.

She posted at the time: “This page is to help raise funds for a local family who lost everything in a house fire last night.

“This is completely devastating for the family. Nikki (Simmons) lives with her daughter and son who has autism, her young lad’s birthday is Friday (December 10) and the fire took everything.

“Her lad who has autism had to leave his home with nothing, his whole world has been turned upside down and all he has cried for is his advent calendar. He wants to have his countdown to Xmas, this literally breaks my heart.”

Fownhope Village Facebook page also put out an appeal to help other victims of the blaze find accommodation.

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