Call­ing time on owner

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Pubs In The Spotlight - By Ai­dan Bar­low

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.

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, TN24 8JR or email ken­tish­ex­press@thek­m­group.co.uk

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.”

Pic­ture: Wayne McCabe FM4013513

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

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