Cllr Ian Ward, IW councillor for Sandown South:

There have been several letters saying nothing is being done about the Ocean Hotel on Sandown seafront and the shops in the High Street.

Unfortunately, Sandown Town Council (STC) invariably gets the blame.

To be clear, STC does not have the powers to issue enforcement orders on derelict buildings, authority lies with the IW Council.

The original owner sold the Ocean Hotel to a company that set about converting it into a mixture of hotel rooms, and holiday flatlets for private buyers.

The company took deposits on 56 flatlets and issued the investors with 125-year leases.

However, they suddenly abandoned the site and disappeared leaving it partly redeveloped but looking like a building site.

After several months, liquidators and receivers were called in.

A huge complication was the fact that the Ocean Hotel had 56 investors who had placed deposits on their holiday flatlets and thereby had a claim.

Each of those individuals had to be contacted, some of whom lived abroad, so they could be persuaded to relinquish their claim with a view of claiming some of their deposit back when the hotel was eventually sold; some were difficult to persuaded, but eventually the receivers succeeded.

Isle of Wight County Press: A recent photo of the derelict Ocean Hotel on Sandown seafront.A recent photo of the derelict Ocean Hotel on Sandown seafront. (Image: Isle of Wight County Press)

A buyer was subsequently found and the sale took place to a property development company. Because of the concern about the safety and the detrimental visual effect, after some discussion, the IW Council issued the new owners with an enforcement order to secure and effectively clear up the site.

Unfortunately, the new owners appealed and took legal action, which suspended any enforcement action until the appeal is decided in court.

They chose to take the appeal to Durham, where their company is based because they said they wouldn’t get a fair hearing on the Isle of Wight.

They attended court in Durham and the judge told them their case was insufficiently prepared and to return to court. Upon their return, a different judge refused to hear the case and told them to return it to the Isle of Wight.

We await a date.

Alongside the IW Council’s enforcement order the police also issued a similar enforcement order. 

In the meantime, a director of the company contacted me and explained they intended to erect fencing by the end of month if possible. We can only hope this is a first step towards getting the site sorted out.

Comments about the number of closed shops in the High Street are also of concern.

Unfortunately, six of those shops, plus the Kings Bar, are an integral part of the Ocean Hotel building and therefore a part of the legal case, so they are in limbo until the legal case is heard.