The town hall is to buy a long-derelict hotel described as ‘a blot on the landscape’ by the council leader.
It will use a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to purchase the former Crescent Hotel, in Rochdale town centre, after a vote by cabinet members.
The Drake Street building has been unoccupied since at least 2005 and is described in council papers as being ‘in a very poor condition both internally and externally’.
Permission to convert it into eight apartments was granted 20 months ago – but little progress has been made, and the council believes it is ‘highly unlikely’ the scheme will ever be completed.
A recent break-in leading to anti-social behaviour – including objects being thrown at passing cars – has made the need to secure the site all the more urgent.
Council leader Allen Brett says the building is ‘a blot on the landscape that needs to be removed’.
He believes that – along with the old Navigation Inn and the former Rochdale Observer offices – it is giving the town and borough a bad image – particularly given its prominent position near the railway station.
“The gateway to Rochdale has three of the biggest eyesores in the borough,” he said.
Recently a ‘major clean-up’ of the area around the train station – including Caton Street, Ann Street and St Chad’s Close – was undertaken by a multi-agency team.
A number of untaxed and uninsured vehicles were removed from the streets, where drug dealing has also been reported.
Coun Brett added: “The hotel backs on to all this, it’s part of a situation where, if we have bad buildings, we have bad behaviour.”
The council hopes that the site will ultimately be used to provide affordable housing via a ‘registered provider’.
Early indications suggest it would be cheaper to demolish and rebuild, rather than refurbish the old hotel.
Council papers say that ‘significant work’ would be needed to return it to a habitable condition, noting that ‘the rear elevation is damaged and is crumbling into the rear yard’.
Coun Brett said: “The problem is that some (derelict buildings) 10 years ago, would have been easy to bring back into use. But the deterioration goes on then people break in and damage becomes worse.”
And while he said it was imperative the hotel site was brought back into use, he warned the CPO process could be a protracted one and subject to legal challenge.
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