During the election campaign, one issue that was regularly raised with me by local residents was the number of empty and derelict buildings in Newquay. They are a sad reflection of the continued impact of the recession on our local economy.
I promised to do all I can, once elected to address this issue. Although there are no easy, quick, answers it is something I have begun to address. My team and I have spent some time researching the background to one of these properties, the Fistral Bay Hotel, which in some ways is symbolic of the wider issue. This hotel stands at the entrance to Pentire and is not only an eyesore, but also a health and safety concern for many people. It closed about eight years ago and has become derelict in the intervening years.
We have been able to ascertain the current ownership of the property. The Penpol Group operated the hotel and this group went bankrupt a number of years ago. The hotel reverted to the mortgage holders and remains with this company to this day.
I contacted the company and they confirmed that the hotel is up for sale and has been for many years. Despite a number of expressions of interest, no developer has yet come forward with a suitable offer. The current owners also understand that it is their responsibility to keep the property to an acceptable health and safety standard.
Despite this information residents understandably remain concerned about the on-going risks, notably fire, vandalism and the risk of injury to people attempting to get into the property. The hotel is vulnerable to storm damage and residents report that in the past boards have been blown away giving easy access to the site. These boards are replaced, but some time can pass before this happens.
This week I met with officials from Cornwall Council and discussed the hotel. They confirmed that they are seeking to take action by the means open to them, such as compulsory purchase can be a lengthy and expensive process with no guarantee of success. They confirmed that council planning officers are open to different ideas for site usage, which should assist in the disposal.
They further confirmed that while the owners have an obligation to maintain the site to certain health and safety standards, there are no legal requirements for aesthetic standards. The Council continues to ensure that the site is kept safe.
The best solution of course is that a buyer is found in the near future. As the economy grows the possibility for this increases. But in the meantime, I will continue to work to ensure that the health and safety concerns of the people of Newquay are top priority.
I have offered to pass on residents’ concerns to the owners, so please feel free to contact my office, so that we can pass your views on. All parties in this story are keen for a swift and positive outcome so let us hope that such an ending emerges soon.