The saga over the derelict and arson-hit Ocean Hotel in Sandown has seen an appeal by its former owners rejected in court and they must now pay more than £5,000 towards the Isle of Wight Council’s legal costs.

In February 2022, the Isle of Wight Council issued a Section 215 order to force Durham-based Phoenix Commercial Property Development (PCPD) to tidy up the hotel on the Esplanade.

The local authority said the building's appearance significantly harmed both the land around it and the town itself.

It set out 15 actions, which PCPD was required to comply with by July 11, including repairing fencing, removing greenery and cleaning the property.

Within months, PCPD appealed, but magistrates later dismissed the case, because they said the owners had failed to meet deadlines set by the court and cited a lack of communication with the Isle of Wight Council.

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With the appeal dismissed, the countdown to clean the building up resumed, and magistrates ordered PCPD to pay £2,000 towards the council's legal costs.

Isle of Wight County Press:

A second appeal was launched at Durham Crown Court, challenging the Isle of Wight Magistrates' July decision.

It forced a hold on the clean-up work at the site.

Appearing at the Isle of Wight Crown Court via video link today (Friday, November 10) was Stephen Purvis, 41, of Ferryhill, County Durham – the former director-turned-contractor of PCPD.

Isle of Wight County Press:

The court heard he retired his position in 2022, and thus, there was a question over whether he had any decision-making capacity whatsoever when it came to PCPD.

Judge Richard Shepherd also raised concerns about a lack of confirmation of the delegation of authority, from company director Anna Doeff to Mr Purvis.

Judge Shepherd said he had a ‘raised eyebrow’ on the subject of Ms Doeff’s signatures on documentation, describing them as “remarkably similar”, which cast doubt on the documents' validity.

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During the day, a key witness did not appear, Mr Purvis declined to give evidence and his barrister withdrew from proceedings.   

Edward Elton, representing the Isle of Wight Council, picked apart the grounds for appeal – nine in total, with the primary one being ownership.

Opposing any adjournment, Mr Elton said the appellant was the author of his own fortune.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Mr Elton added, until the matter was resolved, the Ocean Hotel would remain an eyesore.

Judge Shepherd said Mr Purvis needed to produce the evidence for the appeal, adding it was his job to satisfy the court.

He said PCPD had had every opportunity to prepare its case and be trial ready, and had the benefit of numerous case management hearings.

Judge Shepherd rejected the appeal, and PCPD was ordered to pay costs of £5,940.91.

It means the countdown to clean up the building has now resumed, and PCPD has approximately five months to carry out the work.