A COUNCIL is to take legal action to safeguard a listed building in Chelmsford.

There has been concern voiced recently about the state of the Marconi communications building in New Street – a grade 2 listed building.

At a meeting of Chelmsford Council’s cabinet on Tuesday, Neil Gulliver, councillor responsible for planning and building control, said an enforcement notice would be issued to the receivers of the site for a schedule of work to be carried out to safeguard its future until any development took place.

He said: “It must be kept secure and maintained in an appropriate manner.

“We had hoped to reach an amicable agreement with the receivers, but this was not possible so the notice gives them about eight weeks to carry out the work.”

The news comes after an investigation by BBC Essex this week uncovered vandalism and trespass at the site.

Chelmsford MP Simon Burns also criticised the state of the building.

He said: “It is both a disgrace and appalling that the receivers, who currently own the site, have not taken efforts to protect this historic site, which has listed building status.

“This cavalier attitude to the property they own has led to anyone being able to breach its boundaries, cause damage and commit acts of vandalism, which is destroying the interior of the building.

“It would seem from the evidence that squatters have taken up residence and there is evidence of drug abuse, the consumption of alcohol and graffiti as well as wanton damage to the interior.

“This will cause grave distress to the many people in the town who worked for the Marconi companies and to those who value our history and heritage.” The 1912 building in New Street has been empty since 2007.

The then owners had planning permission for a housing and office development, but went into administration last year.

A spokesman for receivers Zolfo Cooper said: “Prior to our appointment as LPA Receivers of the former Marconi site, in November 2009, a substantial amount of vandalism and theft had occurred on the site, resulting in it becoming unfit for tenant occupation and making it more difficult to secure for an extended period of time.

“We have continued to operate regular security patrols on a daily basis, in line with the arrangements made prior to our appointment, while we have considered the options available for the vacant site.

“We recognise the Marconi building in Chelmsford has continued to be the target of trespassers and as a consequence we have instigated a thorough independent security review in recent weeks.

“As a result of this review, started before the BBC’s filming, security arrangements have been tightened further, including the repair of perimeter fencing and gates which were damaged by trespassers intent on gaining access to the site.

“In addition, we have also introduced a motion detection system which provides round-the-clock supervision of the site.”