A petition has been launched to put pressure on the district council to make a compulsory purchase of the Old Falcon Hotel in St Neots.
St Neots town councillor Barry Chapman took the step after receiving complaints about the poor state of the Grade 2 Listed building, some of which dates back to the 15th Century.
Cllr Chapman said: “The building occupies a central position at the heart of St Neots and its current appearance and lack of use is damaging to the local St Neots economy.”
“The appearance of the Old Falcon is unsightly and damaging to St Neots tourism, the Market Square and to local residents. It is also damaging to the local retail economy and impacts on the profitability and sustainability of local shops, pubs and restaurants.”
The Hunts Post understands that the building, owned by Dennis Whitfield, could be worth in the region of £1 million, but before a compulsory purchase order can go ahead, a developer, with a sound business proposition, will have to be found.
Mr Whitfield’s company submitted a planning a planning application for shops, restaurants, cafes, plus 14 flats in September 2016, but it was turned down by planners at Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC). HDC also served notice on Tower View Properties, owned by Mr Whitfield, in 2015, and following a court case, the company was ordered to complete renovation work to the exterior.
HDC confirmed that the former hotel was on its Buildings at Risk Register and it was keen to work with the owner to find a “viable and appropriate use for the building”.
In a statement, HDC said: “With regards to the use of a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO), government guidance states this should only be used where there is a compelling case in the public interest. It is intended as a last resort to secure the assembly of all land needed to implement projects. We would have to be able to demonstrate sufficiently compelling reasons to confirm a CPO.”
Councillor Ryan Fuller, deputy executive leader and executive member for housing and planning, said: “We will look at all the options and work with Cllr Chapman and the other St Neots councillors to find a solution.”
Mr Whitfield was unavailable for comment.
INFO: To sign the petition, go to: www.gopetition.com/petitions/call-for-hdc-to-cpo-the-old-falcon-st-neots.