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De-listing seafront eyesore shows 'depressing lack of vision'

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: May 20, 2009

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PROPOSALS to get the dilapidated Royal Pier Hotel in Clevedon de-listed by English Heritage have been blasted by one of those responsible for getting it listed in the first place.

Julia Elton, of Clevedon Court, is president of Clevedon Civic Society which fought to get the hotel listed in 2001.

Clevedon Town Council believes its Grade-II listed status has made it harder for developers to regenerate the eyesore and voted earlier this month to investigate the possibility of it being de-listed.

Lady Elton, the deputy Lord Lieutenant on Somerset, said: "The hotel was listed Grade II in 2001 in recognition of its architectural merit and also because it is an integral part of the immediate environment of the Grade I Pier.

"Its listed status prevents its wholesale demolition, protecting both the conservation area and the pier from the kind of redevelopment scheme which horrified thousands of people six years ago.

"The existing planning consent expires in September this year, when the value of the building will immediately drop to a level more attractive to buyers.

"A delisting application, which takes at least six months to process, could well hold off potential purchasers who will wait to see if it is possible to get the building cheap, tear it down and redevelop the site.

"Getting a building delisted is difficult, particularly when its listing is recent, and it is likely that all the town council will achieve by its motion is further delay."

She added the building was in better structural condition than many people think.

She said: "The building looks much worse than it is, largely due to its broken windows and the small area of fire-damaged roof.

"However, old masonry buildings are well built and robust.

"The main structure is still sound and could be restored and reused if the price was right.

"Sometimes planning cases take a long time to resolve successfully.

"It took 30 years to restore Clevedon Pier and throughout this period some town councillors demonstrated a depressing lack of vision, making comments similar to those now being made about the hotel."

North Somerset Council's north area committee will consider Clevedon Town Council's bid to get the hotel de-listed at its June meeting.

* For more on the Royal Pier Hotel see Mercury Mailbag, page 23.

*For a timeline of how the Royal Pier Hotel became a blot on the seafront read this story on our website, www.thisisclevedon.co.uk.

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    Michael Wight, Bristol  |  November 12 2009, 12:58AM

    I am the developer (Michael Wight Homes) that applied and was granted the planning consent for the latest consented scheme (Sept 2006) for this beautiful building. I agree with Julia Elton that it is not necessary for the building to be de-listed. The scheme that was consented is absolutely viable and deliverable. I know I did all of the work necessary to establish this. Also it is proven that there is demand for the finished product with reservations from many willing and since disappointed purchasers. The scheme for The Royal Pier Hotel should have been delivered. It was incorrectly reported that I Pulled out of the scheme¿. Pushed would be a more accurate description. The only reason that the restoration of this fabulous building has not been actioned is, previously due to greed, and currently due to banks unwillingness to support development despite clear viability. A sad sign of the current financial times. This development is now more viable than it has ever been with build costs being much lower than they have been for some years. Admittedly technically a very challenging project but with the right team and expertise definitely achievable. There are still ways that this building could be delivered right now.

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    Colin Beresford-Slinn, campbells landing  |  May 20 2009, 1:55PM

    I for 1 would be exstatic to see the eyesore demolished but think that the hotel at the Rock next to the pier should be saved. Even if it is the whole of the front fascade alone that is saved it does not take much imagination by any decent architect to incorporate it into its re-development. And while hes at it he can draw a few plans up for Campbells Landing which is the next victorian building that will be going for the chop in this sad economic climate . Perhaps some mp can buy it and put in a referb expenses claim to cover the cost.