Councillor fears tragedy at derelict Sandown hotel

A councillor has said he is at the end of his tether over council failures to make progress on getting the derelict Ocean Hotel on Sandown seafront made safe, and fears there could be a tragic accident.

Cllr Ian Ward, who represents Sandown South, says he has repeatedly asked officers to take action after a Section 215 notice was served on the building’s owners in February, ordering them to make the site safe and to tidy it up. Of 15 actions that must be taken, 13 should be completed by May 11, and the other two by mid-July. However, so far there has been no action at all on the site and Cllr Ward has been told that officers have had no contact with the owners for more than a year.

Cllr Ward said: “I hear regular reports that there are youths and sometimes children on the site, which concerns me greatly. The site has deteriorated since the Section 215 notice was issued and I am at the end of my tether in trying to get something done about it.

“I have contacted the head of planning and told him that I fear the owners are ignoring the enforcement order and the site is unsafe. If the council knows the site is dangerous and is doing nothing about it I fear it could make us liable to some extent if an accident happens.

“I understand that we could issue a Section 219 notice, which will permit us to make the site secure and recover the cost from the owners. I have asked officers to investigate that as soon as possible. They should also prepare now to take further action as soon as the time limit expires in the middle of July, we must avoid further delay for months while a case is prepared.

Council officers however, are adamant that the site’s safety is a matter for the owners of the building. A council spokesman added: “The timescales for the requirements set out within the notice have not yet expired and therefore, the council remains hopeful that the landowners will comply with the notice served upon them.”

However, Cllr Paul Fuller, the cabinet lead for planning, said he was personally looking into what can be done. He said: “We know what the issues are and want to find a resolution as soon as possible. We need to be able to act on these blots on the Island landscape quickly, so I am talking to the council’s lawyers to find out what is holding matters up and to find a way forward.

“We need to have dialogue with our town and parish councillors and work together, but we have a huge backlog of work. Everything is out of date and we are playing catch up. Planning enforcement is a priority, but we do need the legal support in place.”