Urgent action demanded on tackling Cumbrian town's eyesore
Last updated at 14:05, Friday, 16 August 2013
Radical and urgent action has been demanded to revamp a tired historical building.
The Kings Arms Hotel in Wigton has remained out of use for a number of years and the façade has become worn, with peeling paint and boarded-up windows.
Planning permission was granted last year to convert the building into a cafe, shops and flats.
But so far no visible work has been done, drawing criticism both from residents and from employees at the nearby Granary Cafe. They argue that its town-centre position means it may be driving tourists and trade away.
Now two prominent locals say enough is enough. Mark Clowes and Len Baseley are both members of Wigton Partnership, which encourages investment in the town, and the campaigning group. Pride in Wigton.
Mr Clowes said: “We think our council should have done something before now, and we are asking why is it taking so long for there to be a positive result.
“We are pleased that people are interested enough to invest and we have the basis of a very attractive town. We feel the time has come for something radical to happen. It will make a drastic difference because it’s got to such a bad state.”
Mr Baseley agreed, adding: “We’re asking for something to be done that needs to be done. We want to encourage people to do their shopping here.”
The men argue that Allerdale Council should enforce section 215 order of the Town and Country Planning Act of 1990. That gives a local planning authority the power to take steps requiring land or buildings to be cleaned up when their condition adversely affects the amenity of an area.
An Allerdale Council spokesman confirmed they have concerns about how long it has taken for development work to start and that they have received complaints about the state of the building.
He said: “The council planning department is in contact with the landlord’s agent and has expressed concern regarding the state of the building and the length of time taken for works to start. The landlord has provided undertakings as to when work will start on site and this expected imminently.”
And employees at the Granary Cafe, which looks on to the Kings Arms Hotel, said they would welcome work being carried out.
Annie Glendinning, who was born and bred in Wigton, said: “It’s a disgrace and an eyesore. It doesn’t look good to strangers and looks as if the town is run down.”
The owner’s agent Jeff McMaster, of Edwin Thompson chartered surveyors, said that a contractor has been provisionally appointed, but work could not begin until planning conditions had been approved.
Mr McMaster said: “Phase one is due to commence in August with the commercial units to the ground floor and the enabling works for the upper floor flat conversions.
“There is a considerable amount of work required and due to the size of the building and limited external alterations proposed, a consequence is that nothing will be visible externally for a little while.”
First published at 13:53, Friday, 16 August 2013
Published by http://www.cumberlandnews.co.uk
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