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Blaze hotel plans are hit by crunch

By This is Exeter  |  Posted: March 21, 2009

BLAZE: The Montebello Hotel was left derelict by the fire in 2006.

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HOPES for a brighter future at the site of the old Montebello Hotel in Ilfracombe have been shot down in flames in the short term — because of the credit crunch.

The six-storey hotel in Fore Street was reduced to a pile of rubble after one of the biggest fires in the history of Ilfracombe, in August, 2006.

Since then, the site has been fenced off and left derelict.

But as the town braces itself for the April Spring Clean, district councillor Paul Yabsley has been hoping to encourage the owners to tidy it up.

"The site is untidy and the fencing is obstructing the footpath," said Cllr Yabsley.

"We need to encourage the current owners to tidy it up — that's all we can do, other than to put planning permissions through as quickly as possible, if they are put forward, as we are the statutory authority."

Simon Dowling, proprietor of Camel Estate Agents in Cornwall, said the owners had put the site up for sale, but in the current climate, no one had shown any interest in it.

Co-owner Eleanor Smith, who lives in Dorset, said: "We do come and visit from time to time, especially when the people we know in Ilfracombe who keep an eye on it, tell us it needs looking at.

"We are planning to come over in a couple of weeks' time, to see if there does need to be any further clearing up."

On the future of the site, she added: "It's very difficult, when the financial climate is as it is, so that anyone who owns a site is having problems — even McCarthy and Stone are at their Cliffe Hydro site and have called things to a halt, which is a great shame."

The Montebello site is on the market for £1.5million and on the estate agent's website they note: "Preliminary enquiries with the local planning authority have indicated that redevelopment of the site with a new building mass similar to the previous hotel would be favourably considered, in anticipation that such a scheme would incorporate up to 40 one-bed and two-bed apartments with some of 'affordable' status."

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    concirned local, United Kingdom  |  March 23 2009, 8:33PM

    Dear Anon, Thank you for your suppot, the site has been demolished and left "safe ??" but it is such an awfull eyesore in an important local historic street the word "disgrace" hardly begins to describe it. As the property is in private ownership, as you have noted not by a local, the local council are powerless to enforce anything ! This would appear to be another case of "not in my backyard" as I would be more than a little surprised if the current owners look out on a similarly pleasant view !!! Finally and once again, who in there right mind has advised them it is worth £1.5million ? the Collingwood amongst other local hotels didn't achieve this amount and they were still trading ! it all just beggers belief ........

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    Anon, Cyberspace  |  March 23 2009, 6:35PM

    Shouldnt the owners fire insurance be responsible for making the site at least safe and removing obstructions. This is a disgrace, and to hear the Dorset owner say, as if theyre coming over to sweep the rug and fill a couple of bags of rubbish...is the local authority not empowered to order the site bulldozed and made safe? This is blatantly irresponsible property ownership. If youve got a million pounds invested in something then you ensure that all perils and damage are covered.

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    concirned local, United Kingdom  |  March 20 2009, 7:38PM

    Hooray for Mr Yabsley !! This eyesore site is in the town's most historic street as we all know leads from the High Street to the harbour. Most if not all of our summer visitors will want to wander down this street looking at the historic buildings and finally have fish and chips or a cream tea along the Quay and harbour area. Obviously they will be so impressed when they walk past this horendous sight and, if they get over it by the time they reach the bottom, what joy ! a run down almost derelict looking bus station !! If you include the old amusement site on Wilder Road (of course right next to the beautifully kept and not to mention expensive to maintain gardens) it makes you wonder if or in fact why we ever get any visitors at all ! Maybe it makes them realise that where they live isn't so bad after all ! So PLEASE owners of these sights (oh ! I nearly forgot the Colingwood, you just get so use to all these run down buildings) get yourselves organised and SORT THEM OUT !!!! or at least make them look tidy. As a local to the Monti sight (very local) do I get any compensation for the fact my property has been devalued ? NO ! Did I get any compensation for the dirt and disruption while it burnt or was demolished ? NO ! So be realistic it is never worth £1.5 million and probably never will be, economic crisis or not, sell it for a realistic price and let someone develop it sympathetically and get rid of at least one of the towns awfull eyesores !!!!