A picturesque thatched cottage has disappeared from a village street scene – just one day after developers gave planners four weeks’ notice of their intention to demolish it.

Gridleys – a 17th-century property in Chapel Road, Langham – was once so highly regarded that its image was used on the front of the BT phone book in 1986.

Now its destruction has left villagers dismayed and querying why it was pulled down so promptly.

Tony Ellis, who chairs Langham Parish Council’s planning committee, said: “Pre-notification was lodged with Colchester Council on May 18, notifiying it of the developer’s intention to demolish and giving the council 28 days’ notice.

“But the next day they demolished it completely. It’s rubble.

“I understand the planning officer has written to the agent requesting justification for the demolition.

“It just seems strange a property is demolished prior to planning consent being given, and just one day after pre-notification to the borough council.”

Andrew Rudge, Colchester Council’s design and heritage unit manager, said that, under the Town and Country Planning Order 1995, a developer was required to display for 21 days a notice advertising his intention to demolish, and give the local authority 28 days in which to respond.

Neither appeared to have happened in this case, he added.

“It is a very unusual situation,” said Mr Rudge.

“Because the order doesn’t refer to what the next step will be, we are taking legal advice.

“It is quite a sad state of affairs.

“Apart from waiting on the response of our legal services department, we are going to have to sit by on this one.”

Martin Harmon, who submitted an application last month for Gridleys’ demolition and the construction of a replacement home on the site, was unavailable for comment, despite the Standard’s attempts to contact him.