Councillors have agreed to issue a repairs order for a Grade II* listed hotel – but they have insisted they will only compulsorily purchase the building as a last resort.
Wellingborough Council says the 17th century Hind Hotel, in Sheep Street, has been “visibly deteriorating” over the past 10 years, and if the hotel does not keep up with the repairs it could intervene by using its powers to compulsory purchase the building.
The local authority has highlighted a number of urgent repairs which it says are necessary, both on the outside and inside of the hotel, including rotted wooden rafters, beams and windows, stone and brick work which is eroded, broken and leaking rainwater pipes, and a number walls which are covered in vegetation and some have structural cracks in them.
The council has also said that in the courtyard there is rot and damage to the escape staircase and inside the building the historical wall panelling has broken away and there is water damage to wall and ceiling plaster.
And it insist that the majority of the building needs repointing and the roof is in desperate need of repair, with missing stone slates, open joints and broken guttering.
The hotel has been earmarked for at least £115,000 of the £1.4m of heritage lottery money secured for Wellingborough, but the owners would also have to put up 30 per cent of the total figure needed for the work.
After news broke that the council was considering taking action, the hotel’s owner met with council officers in a bid to prevent the repairs order being issued.
But members of the council’s development committee voted at a meeting on Tuesday, February 5, to issue the repairs order.
Shasha Khan, the owner’s son and the hotel operations director, attended the meeting and reacted with shock when members agreed the proposal.
He told them: “During the last few days it has been pandemonium. I have had to assure staff and anxious couples who are getting married at the hotel. The council has managed to make a difficult situation worse.”
But Cllr Robert Hawkes said: “I am distressed. I don’t know how long you have owned this hotel, but you have not looked after it very well. I think you are derelict in your duties.
“There are slipped and missing stone slates in the Collyweston roof. They are heavy. There is a risk to people is one of those slates slips of and hits someone you could be in serious trouble, and so could this council.
“There’s no excuse, if one of those slips off and you knew about it you are liable.”
Cllr Tim Allebone, chairman of the committee, said: “I think we have to issue the repairs notice. It would be a very, very last resort to issue the Compulsory Purchase order, but legally we would have that option if we wanted to go down that route, It’s very much a last resort, but we are acting within the legislation.
“I am sure we all want to see the hotel thriving.”
The Hind Hotel was a resting point for Oliver Cromwell’s army before the Battle of Naseby in 1645 and it is believed that Cromwell himself stayed at the hotel.