‘No simple solution’ concedes council after fire ravaged Phoenix Hotel, Wisbech, remains stuck in legal quagmire

10:11 06 November 2015

Phoenix Hotel and Restaurant showing the support scaffolding

Phoenix Hotel and Restaurant showing the support scaffolding

Archant

Five and a half years after arsonists destroyed the Phoenix Hotel in Wisbech, council bosses conceded “there is no simple solution to this issue”.

Little remains of the former 16-bedroom hotel and Chinese restaurant on North Brink but any hope of repairing it remains stuck in a legal quagmire.

Richard Cassidy, corporate director for Fenland Council, said: “The council has taken action to make the property safe and has protected the façade.

“The refurbishment costs for the building are considerable and are significantly in excess of the completed property value.”

Mr Cassidy was responding to Councillor Virginia Bucknor, who has been pressing for news on the abandoned building.

“With regard to Phoenix House, as you say, there is no simple solution to this issue,” he told her.

He accepted one of the key issues to resolving the impasse was the “the separate charges made on the property by FDC and the Bank of East Asia.

“I understand the council did receive information that the bank intended to take steps to release its charge, which would help reduce liabilities against the property. “Therefore, to obtain the latest information, I have asked the legal team to undertake a fresh property title search to establish if this has been done.”

Flames tore through the Phoenix in April 2010. Firefighters battled through the night to bring it under control.

The following day it became clear much of the Georgian building would have to be demolished because it was at risk of collapsing.

Fenland District Council has spent £100,000 on making the building safe but has been unable to recover any of its costs.

A bid to get another prominent building, Constantine House, repaired – which was also largely destroyed by fire at the same time-, could now end up in court.

Solicitors are considering whether they have sufficient grounds to prosecute the owner after a deadline for repairs came and went.

Fenland Council has sent the case to its legal team “to review with a view to prosecution” after discovering no further work to repair the building had been undertaken since August.

“The owners of Constantine House in Wisbech have not complied with the Section 215 Notice requiring them to complete the necessary works by Monday, October 26, 2015,” a spokesman said.

“And they did not exercise their right to appeal the notice”

Mr Cassidy told Cllr Bucknor: “In terms of Constantine House, I agree that following our intervention, it is frustrating that the owner does not appear to have completed the repairs to the building after a very promising start.”

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