The Crown Estate has been urged to intervene and repair a crumbling historic hotel in Carlisle which is in such disrepair that falling debris has forced a road in the city to close.
The Crown Estate has told the City Council that it will “do nothing that could be seen as an act of ownership” to save the grade two-listed Central Plaza Hotel, whose chimney collapsed in January forcing the closure of West Walls road.
The seven-storey hotel, which was originally built by John Laing in 1882, has been left vacant since 2004 and has gradually fallen into disrepair over the past 14 years.
Cllr Paul Nedved, chair of Carlisle Council’s economic growth scrutiny committee, told Place North West: “We are hoping that a developer is going to come forward for the hotel but have had a couple of false dawns. It’s a former prominent Victorian hotel, and unfortunately the firm that bought it went into liquidation, whereby it reverted to the Crown Estate.
“And this is the crux of the problem, because the council have a duty of care for the building from a health and safety perspective. It’s costing us an arm and a leg to make safe.”
According to Nedved the council has spent £250,000 on repairs since 2011. A feasibility study by the City Centre Business Group hired local architects Black Box to look at the options of total demolition, partial demolition with a final option which would some rebuild and a total renovation at an estimated cost of £5m.
Nedved added: “We had a storm which brought down the chimney and closed the road for four weeks. The Crown Estate isn’t doing much to help our cause.
“The hotel has come to them by default. They are effectively sitting on the sidelines hoping that something will turn up.
“It’s a prominent landmark in the city and is within a heritage area but soon it will get to the point of no return.”
The repairs and re-opening of the road are expected to take up to eight weeks to complete.
A spokesman for The Crown Estate said: “The hotel is not owned by The Crown Estate and we therefore can’t take any responsibility for its management. It is subject to an unusual legal process called escheat, which is a term given to property which has become ownerless.
“A quirk of escheat law does give The Crown Estate the ability to sell properties which are subject to escheat back to a private owner, who would be able to manage the property. We will work with interested parties if approached.”