Posted: 29.07.20 at 15:42 by The Editor
Ashby de la Zouch Town Council has called for urgent action to address the condition of the Royal Hotel - and stop it ‘fading away in front of our eyes’.
Town councillors made their concerns known at Monday night’s meeting and agreed to increase pressure on the relevant parties to do something about the landmark building which was described as being in a ‘bad, bad way’.
The council intends to contact Historic England, which lists it as being of special architectural or historic interest.
And the meeting also agreed to get in touch with James Arnold, Strategic Director at North West Leicestershire District Council, and arrange a visit by councillors to see the state of the inside of the hotel first hand.
The Grade II Regency listed building, situated in Station Road, was built in 1826 but was closed down more than two years ago with the owners saying it was not viable as a business.
It has been boarded up ever since.
The Royal was being run by a company called Oakland Hotels which included locally-based Simon Dawson as one of its directors.
But cost of renovation was put at £3.5million and, since then, a planning application for the erection of a 30 apartment terrace, office building, cafe kiosk and 45 senior living apartment block with associated car parking has been made.
However, it is the state of the hotel that is alarming councillors who say that the Ashby public are just as concerned about the apparent decline of a well-known building that will soon be 200 years old.
Councillor Dan Harrison raised the matter at Monday’s meeting and said: “I’d like to voice my concern about the Royal Hotel. Like everybody in Ashby I watched the despair on people’s faces when they look at it and the disrepair. I
“I think I was told two years ago, that the central heating boiler was taken out or removed for some reason.
“But clearly, it is in a really bad, bad way. Anything we can do to make Mr Dawson and his company aware of our deep concern, should be done.
“Because it will get to the point with the escalation of how it’s beginning to crumble slowly, it might not be feasible, we were talking several million pounds to put it right a year or two back. I can only see that bill growing.
“We need to be having some dialogue with the District Council and telling them of our serious concern.
“I would certainly, along with other members, would like to go inside and have a look at that building. Not just read a report, actually go inside and see how bad it is with my own eyes.
“I daresay other members would also jump at that opportunity. It’s in the town, it’s an important and imposing building and it’s fading away in front of our eyes.
“My comments are out of pure frustration at how this is just gone on. We ought to try another approach, because what we’re doing isn’t gaining any kind of traction with the owner of the building at the moment.“
Cllr Geraint Jones added: “I quite agree, I don’t think Historic England are doing a very good job at monitoring the situation, we’ve had vegetation growing out of the roof for many, many months, some of which was removed recently,
“What we have to bear in mind is that this is a landmark building, it’s dear to many of the people who are born and bred in Ashby.
“In just over five years time it’ll be 200 years old and I despair every time I go past at the state that it’s in. There is no danger of it collapsing I’m sure, but it’s not a very good advert for the town.
“It’s part of Ashby‘s history, and it’s part of people’s happenings in their lives. People have been there for weddings, wakes, christenings. It’s dear to the majority of people who live in Ashby, the sooner we can get something resolved the better for everyone.”
Cllr Graham Allman said: “Some of the dual-roled council members might like to take this up with the District Council.“
Cllr David Bigby added: “As a district councillor, I take a close interest in what’s going on here, I contact the people in the planning department and the conservation officer almost every week on this, trying to chivvy them along and trying to get something done.
“For some reason they seem reluctant to really put any pressure on the owner, I don’t understand why that is, but I’m not going to stop pushing them.
“But I do think the pressure from the Town Council will help and if we can contact Historic England and push them then that will also help enormously.
“We need to apply as much pressure as possible to try and make sure that the Royal is actually looked after.
“As for the loss of the heating system, I believe that was due to a break-in where copper piping was stolen and that’s made the whole thing even more vulnerable.
“We really have to get something done“
Cllr Harrison continued: "This is important.
“We need a meeting in Ashby with James Arnold so we can see for ourselves what’s happening. We need to unite and say this is urgent and we are here to tell you that, and see if we cannot create a bit more leverage.”
Cllr Dr Barbara Kneale said: “I agree with Dan Harrison, we should have a visit around the Royal hotel. To see for ourselves what’s going on.
“I’m also not happy with the storage yard next to hotel because I don’t believe that heavy goods vehicles going on and off that car park is good for the foundations of a Georgian building.
“It seems to me we’re being kept in the dark by the District Council. One of the subjects I get asked about most as a counsellor for the Willesley Ward is the Royal Hotel.”
Cllr Allman added: “I think we’re all very precious about the Royal Hotel, it’s in a state of terrible repair and will not attract too much more investment into the town while it’s in that state.“
Cllr Bigby concluded: “I was assured another inspection was going ahead in July, and I’ll be getting report on that shortly.”