THE owners of a historic pub which has stood empty for seven years have spoken of their frustration with Denbighshire County Council.
Verson Investments purchased The Crown Hotel in Denbigh in 2006 following the death of previous owner David Brynle Jones.
It would like to use the Grade II listed building to create around 20 studio flats, but the council says it does not feel the plan is “acceptable”.
When they first bought the pub Verson had applied to build eleven one and two bedroom flats but were refused permission.
“The council’s reason was that they felt the town needed the pub and hotel,” said Frank Rameshni, from Verson.
“Since then, Verson has had the property on the market with no buyers found. That is five years of marketing and no buyers.”
The owners say because of changes in the economy it would no longer be financially viable to go-ahead with the original plan, which is why they want to use the hotel for more, smaller flats, but still to keep a retail unit on the ground floor.
“Having spent a long time looking at what would be viable, Verson realised that there is no affordable apartments in Denbigh for people on moderate incomes,” said Mr Rameshni.
“Therefore someone who works but does not have a high income is either forced to live with their parents or rent a room.”
But Denbighshire County Council’s planning guidelines say apartments should not be under 50 square metres.
“That is usually the equivalent to a two bedroom apartment in most towns and far too big for a self contained studio flat,” said Mr Rameshni.
“Logic must prevail. No one will invest a substantial amount of money into a business that will lose them money.
“Unless the council agree to this proposal which is fair, viable and fulfils a need in the town - the building will sit there boarded up for as many years as it takes until they come to their senses.”
He added: “I can’t understand why they don’t want studio flats in the town.
“They don’t seem to be showing any signs of entrepreneurial spirit.
“In London we have 25square metre flats which sell.”
Verson Investments paid £325,000 for the hotel but say they have spent around £400,000 in total by the time maintenance work is included.
The building is still empty and boarded up and is on the market for £349,995 with Fleurets property agents.
A spokeswoman for Denbighshire County Council said: “We have recently written to Mr Rameshni, the owner of this building.
“The building is listed and in a Conservation Area.
“We did refuse planning permission for a scheme of conversion as at that time(2008) insufficient justification was put forward to justify the loss of the hotel.
“Since 2008 we have provided a lot of advice and guidance to the owner in terms of a possible acceptable scheme. Unfortunately the owner wishes to get more apartments into the building than we feel is acceptable given our adopted space standards for residential units.
“We have recently offered to meet with the owner again in an attempt to move this
problem site forward.”
Mr Rameshni has asked that residents in the town send an email to him at firstname.lastname@example.org with their thoughts on the pub.
See full story in the Free Press