Pub chain interest in ‘eyesore’ Woolacombe hotel?

Could Narracott Hotel be the target for JD Wetherspoon?

PUB CHAIN giant JD Wetherspoon could be seeking to buy a disused Woolacombe hotel, the North Devon Gazette understands.

Since its closure almost four years ago, the Narracott Hotel in Beach Road has become something of an eyesore and a source of frustration for residents following the long delay in plans for its redevelopment.

Developer Blast Properties Limited has just applied to North Devon Council for an extension to the time limit for its application to demolish former staff quarters and build 14 self contained holiday apartments.

Now the Gazette understands Wetherspoon has been looking at the site, but the company is currently refusing to comment.

Mortehoe Parish Council chairman Councillor Don Duffield told the Gazette that if Wetherspoon did wish to develop the site, the council would have to carefully consider the long term effect of such a development on the area.

But at present the council is trying to get the current owners to improve the look of the site, which has stood since the 60s and 70s in its present form, with 12 apartments added in 2001.

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“The council has put in a proviso that we would only consider renewal of the plans if they would do something about the exterior,” said Mr Duffield.

“The youngsters have gone in and put graffiti there, but it certainly has not detracted from it.

“So initially we would like to see them tidy up the front – it’s not good for the area to have a derelict building. We hope the financial situation will improve sufficiently for them to carry out their proposed development.”

Woolacombe District Councillor Malcolm Wilkinson added: “We’re really disappointed the first impression of Woolacombe as you come in are marred by an eyesore of a building. Anyone arriving at what is a major tourist village in North Devon is confronted by a rusting hulk.

“We do appreciate there are schemes by the owners to develop, but it is difficult to go ahead in this financial climate, but at the very least they need to tidy up the front so it is more welcoming.”

According to the original planning application, the apartment phase was intended as part of a full renovation and upgrading scheme for the hotel and its complex that would cost between �2.2-2.6 million.

JD Wetherspoon is expanding its presence in North Devon, after putting in an application for a pub restaurant at the Bideford Carpets building. Meanwhile, in Ilfracombe it is scheduled to begin long-awaited demolition work at some point in the new year on its Collingwood Hotel site. The company purchased the site in 2007.

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