Calling time on owner
The owner of a derelict pub which blights the entrance to the town centre has been given a final warning to take action to spruce it up.
The Prince Albert has stood empty since its closure in 2008 and became a target for vandalism and graffiti.
Then in March last year the empty pub was gutted by a fire, sparking concerns about the future of the site in New Street.
In April last year the Express reported that a mystery developer was interested in the New Street site, with the possibility of building new flats.
But nothing has happened, sparking Ashford Borough Council (ABC) to write a final warning letter to the landowner in a bid to try to get things moving.
Cllr Graham Galpin, who is the cabinet member responsible for business in the town centre, said he too was concerned.
He said: “It’s disappointing to see the Prince Albert looking like that. Frankly it is a ruin. We need to get it back into use in some way, but of course we have to work with the owner.
“We have recently sent a strong letter to the owner, advising them that our next step would be to put in place a section 215 order. It’s one last warning.
“The new owner was looking to redevelop but appears to have lost interest in that option. We are looking to find someone who wants to redevelop that site.”
Under government legislation, the council can order landowners to take steps to tidy up or improve properties if they are having an adverse effect on the neighbouring area.
If a section 215 notice is then ignored, the council could then decide to carry out the repairs or improvements itself and ask the landowner for the bill.
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The news of the final warning letter follows the closure of the British Volunteer pub which is also in New Street.
Mr Galpin added: “In the current financial atmosphere for pubs it seems unlikely the British Volunteer would reopen as a pub. It’s a shame to see famous and historic town centre pubs no longer being used.
“It has reached the stage where it is pretty much use it, or lose it, and people have voted with their feet. Therefore it should become something people do want to use or live in.
“We want people who are going to bring some vitality to the town to invest in these sites.”
The boarded-up Prince Albert, in New Street
The British Volunteer also in New Street
The Prince Albert when it was The Prince of Orange and, right, crews damp down after the fire
Cllr Graham Galpin