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