Repairs not needed!

By IW May 11, 2022

The owners of the derelict Ocean Hotel in Sandown have appealed a section 215 notice ordering them to clean up the site and make it safe, meaning there will be further delays while the court deals with the application.

Isle of Wight Council planners have been working on getting work done since 2019 but faced difficulties when the ownership of the hotel changed a number of times between investment companies, frustrating efforts to find a negotiated solution.

The Section 215 notice served in March listed 15 improvements and renovations needed to make the former hotel and its grounds tidy, safe and secure, including removal of all building materials, rubbish, and overgrown vegetation from the visible parts of the site, repair the boundary fences adjacent to the High Street and overlooking the seafront, and remove the collapsed entrance canopy overlooking the Esplanade. The landowners were given two months to carry out most of the work, with a further two months to clean and repaint the front of the building.

However, last Tuesday (April 26), the council received notice that the current owners were appealing the Section 215 notice, claiming that the condition of the site does not adversely affect the surrounding areas. They also suggest the state of the site is due to ongoing development or renovation and that the work ordered exceeds what is needed and they have not been given a reasonable time to complete it.

The appeal has the effect of pausing the clock on the work required until it has been dealt with through the court. An initial hearing has been scheduled for May 20.

Councillor Ian Ward, who has been pushing council officers to get the work carried out, expressed his anger at the situation. He said: “This site is vitally important to the future regeneration of Sandown; we simply cannot afford to let this slip. I strongly suspect that these ‘investment companies’ are linked and the changes in ownership are simply a cynical ploy to delay enforcement action which I hope the court will see through.

“On Sunday it will be the first anniversary of the devastating fire that could have destroyed this building. No criminal charges were ever brought, and many people believe the circumstances surrounding the fire were highly suspicious.

“This site deteriorates daily before our eyes; the suggestion that it doesn’t have an adverse effect on surrounding properties is ridiculous and recent owners have put absolutely no plans forward for redevelopment.

“I hear constant reports of youngsters inside the hotel. Who knows what harm they might come to? We know this is happening and we can’t ignore it.

“I will be attending the court case to hear for myself what is said and will continue to pursue this issue with officers. I very much hope that this appeal is dealt with quickly and effectively and does not hold up enforcement action by too long.”