Plans to rebuild Falmouth Beach Hotel in doubt
7:00am Thursday 31st January 2013 in News
PLANS to rebuild a Falmouth hotel which was brought to its knees by a devastating fire last year have been thrown into doubt after it was announced the site is to be sold.
The Falmouth Beach Hotel had stood overlooking Gyllyngvase Beach for almost 30 years until flames, fanned by gale force winds, ripped through much of the four storey building last April. Pictures and video of the blazing hotel can be seen at thepacket.co.uk.
Only 16 of its 120 bedrooms survived the fire, but its owners, the Evans family, immediately vowed to rebuild the hotel “bigger and better” than before. Plans for the replacement hotel were only conditionally approved by Cornwall Council on January 5.
This week, though, it has been announced that the site on Cliff Road is to go on the market, complete with that planning consent.
Christie + Co, of Exeter, who have been appointed to prepare the property for sale, said in a statement: “The fire that closed the Falmouth Beach Hotel in 2012 left proprietor Hazel Evans naturally devastated following 30 years of successfully owning and operating this family business.
“Since the fire she has been carefully considering the hotel rebuild project, her future plans and possible retirement from the hospitality industry. Consequently, she has proposed a closure of the site and rebuilding work.
“A potential purchaser who will redevelop the hotel site is being sought. In the meantime, Mrs Evans is working closely with her professional advisors.”
The news has been met with trepidation as many voice their concerns that the hotel rebuild will be side-lined in favour of more residential apartments.
Writing on the hotel’s facebook page, Fi Hingston said: “It should be sold only to build another hotel. We don’t want any more flats or student accommodation in Falmouth.”
Debbie Richards added: “Probably be a block of flats that locals wouldn’t be able to afford. And there goes another load of jobs.”
James Wright said: “As a Falmouth local, this is sad news but I’m sure the good people at the Falmouth Beach Hotel have done all they can to make this situation work. I feel for the people whose jobs have been lost.”
The uncertainty over the hotel rebuild has been met with “disappointment” from the Falmouth and District Hotels Association.
Its secretary, Rosemary Riddette-Gregory, said: “News that the site is to be sold for development does not come as a great surprise, but nevertheless, there is disappointment that the re-building of a hotel is less certain.
“Thousands of customers, from around the world, have enjoyed its hospitality over the last 30 years and both the Evans family and their staff will be missed on the hotel scene.
“This is just the latest of the iconic original seafront hotels, including The Bay, The Carthion, The Southcliffe, The Boscawen and The Gwendra, to have been part of the landscape in Falmouth for a century or more to disappear and reduce choice for guests.
“We understand that this is a prime site for redevelopment to a residential use, but its loss will be detrimental to the tourism industry as a whole in Falmouth, as will the permanent loss of jobs and skills. We would much prefer to see a high quality hotel rise again from the ashes, but understand market forces must prevail.”
Falmouth town manager, Richard Gates, said: “I very much hope the site will continue to provide visitor accommodation in the future. Due to its stunning location, the area is a key attraction and as such it would be great for people to continue to visit and stay in the future.”
Speculation that Premier Inn, who had plans to build a new hotel off Grove Place refused last month, could be interested in the site could not be confirmed at the time of going to press.