Are fortunes about to change for Barnstaple’s dilapidated Inn on the Strand?

COULD one of Barnstaple’s most neglected buildings finally be getting a facelift?

In recent weeks some work has already taken place to the exterior of the former Inn on the Strand, a so-called local “grot spot” that has been boarded up since 2000.

The Gazette understands that owner Mike Deakin has been holding talks with North Devon Council and that a planning application to make some improvements to the front of the building could be submitted within the coming weeks.

Despite reports of building activity behind the scaffolding, Mr Deakin, who also owns the Venue nightclub next door, refused to comment when the Gazette contacted him to ask about the building’s future.

The council also refused to speculate over what lay in store for the former pub, but the council’s planning manager, Mike Kelly, did say: “We have been concerned over the condition of what is an important building in the town for some time and have written to the owner to express that concern.

“There are ongoing discussions between the owner and officers, following which it is hoped that action to improve the building will be agreed.”

The council would neither confirm nor deny that the threat of legal action had been raised with Mr Deakin should he refuse to make improvements the building.

Elsewhere in North Devon, a working group set up last year has been helping to speed up projects on sites that have fallen into inaction or disrepair.

Last September, the Ilfracombe Stalled Sites Group issued notice of a formal warning of legal action to the owners of the Berkeley Hotel should they fail to begin making repairs to the front of the building within 21 days.

The group, consisting of officers and members from North Devon Council, Ilfracombe Town Council, North Devon+ and Transform, is now known as the Development Sites Group to reflect the fact that it has broadened its remit to include new and strategic development sites.