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Hotel delisting call is rejected

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: June 17, 2009

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SEEKING the delisting of a seafront eyesore wouldn't help get it restored, according to councillors.

The Grade-II listed Royal Pier Hotel in Clevedon has become dilapidated during a sorry decade-long saga of neglect.

We reported last month that Clevedon councillor David Shopland had urged North Somerset Council to consider if delisting would make it more viable for developers to revamp the former hotel, next to Clevedon Pier.

But last Thursday's north area committee was reluctant to create such a precedent.

Cllr Nan Kirsen said: "It is a mess and spoils the view of Clevedon seafront.

"But I have very grave concerns about removing the listed building status.

"This could be the thin end of the wedge and other people might let things fall into wrack and ruin if they thought it would lose the listed building protection."

Other councillors said that, as the building sits within a conservation zone, seeking to get it delisted wouldn't suddenly make it an easy site to develop.

During the past decade planning permission was twice given for the hotel to be converted into first 17 and then 27 luxury flats.

But the company behind the scheme went into administration last year when the Royal Bank of Scotland pulled the plug.

No bidder met the receivers' asking price when it was auctioned earlier this year and Cllr Shopland said removing the listed building status might make it more attractive to developers.

The council's planning conservation official Sian Hughes advised the committee English Heritage would be unlikely to accept a proposal to delist the hotel.

She added that, as the council was currently preparing to issue an urgent works notice to safeguard the fabric of the listed building, where the owners are forced to carry out reasonable work to make it safe, it wouldn't be a good time to seek it anyway.

Cllr Carl Francis-Pester said the building had little merit and was only listed because of its proximity to the pier.

He added: "But certain sections of Clevedon seem to think it is second only to the Sistine Chapel in terms of beauty."

Cllr Nigel Ashton said the most important thing was to discover what sort of building on that site would be acceptable to people in Clevedon and to the council.

He said: "Rather than looking at delisting in isolation we should look at what we would actually allow on this site and what our options are."

The committee eventually voted to ask officials to bring a detailed report on the state of the building and the planning issues surrounding it to the council's planning and regulatory committee.

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