Saturday, 28 November 2015

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Derelict former hotel in Carlisle has no owner

A crumbling “potential deathtrap” hotel which has become a blight on a key area of Carlisle city centre now has no owner.

Central Plaza Hotel photo
The former Central Plaza Hotel

For the last decade, the Central Plaza Hotel on Victoria Viaduct has stood empty, casting a grim shadow over a key approach to the city.

Increasingly derelict, it is regularly used by bored youngsters as a potentially deadly playground.

Hopes that the eyesore could be sold were boosted last year after its most recent owner ceased trading and the 84 bedroom hotel was transferred to The Duchy of Lancaster, the organisation managing property for the Queen.

But under an ancient English property law the building has now been declared ownerless. The Queen’s Crown Estate solicitors will neither manage nor market it – but they will sell it if a potential buyer independently makes an offer.

Though Carlisle City Council did emergency work to protect the building two years ago, the concern is that the building will remain trapped in a legal limbo, with its worsening condition making it too expensive to renovate.

The council’s leader Colin Glover and his deputy Elsie Martlew have now called for action to address the problem once and for all.

Mrs Martlew wants the council to hold talks with the Crown Estate solicitors to find a way forward while Mr Glover said a solution – possibly involving a local developer – should be sought.

Mrs Martlew said: “It’s a blot on the landscape: you only have walk past it and you can smell the decay of it. It must be awful for the neighbouring businesses. Something has to be done. We need to have a meeting with the Crown solicitors to find out what the options are.

“From the city’s point of view something has to be done. We need to know who is liable because it’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Councillor Glover said: “It’s one of those situations where the council in isolation will not have a solution but we need to have discussions with somebody who may have an idea of how it can be used.

“If there’s a willing developer who wants to come to the council with an acceptable idea we’d support them.

“We should do that piece of work in partnership with a developer and evaluate our options rather than say knock it down. That way we may find a solution.”

Andrew Gale, who runs the Carlisle Bed Centre next door to the hotel, said the derelict building represented a huge liability for the city, and posed a constant threat.

He said: “A few weeks ago there were some youths trying to start a fire in there.

“It’s only a matter of time before a youth falls off the scaffolding and gets killed. It’s been an ongoing problem, especially in the school holidays. The hotel is used by children aged 10 to 13, and homeless people go in there.

“And in high winds, mortar and broken slates can come off the building. More than 90 per cent of the customers who come into our shop comment about it, saying that it’s a disgrace nothing is being done.”

He added that he thought it ridiculous that the Crown Estate office had a policy of not marketing ownerless properties such as the hotel. After its closure in 2004, the Central Plaza was owned by Goldfern Properties Ltd, which went into dissolution last year.

Have your say

It's a great building in a great location for approaching the city and from the station. Aren't we always saying Carlisle needs a five star boutique hotel to make it more attractive as a city for outside investment. Perfect opportunity for investment as part of the councils regeneration scheme. But don't skimp, make it good, fantastic restaurant, spa, luxury rooms,make it a reason for visiting.

Posted by simon francis on 19 September 2015 at 20:38

Who is paying for the hire of all that scaffolding.

Posted by Peter Metcalf on 7 April 2015 at 19:29

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