THE Royal Hotel, one of the most eye-catching buildings on the Rothesay seafront, may not survive another winter if major repair work is not carried out soon, according to the local builder hoping to purchase the property.
George Hanson says he is willing to buy the Royal Hotel from its present owner George Hart – but not without grant assistance.
The Royal has been closed for many years, and has been surrounded by scaffolding since January, when a pane of glass fell from a top floor window, injuring a passer-by and damaging a car in the street below.
Emergency repairs to make the building wind- and water-tight were instructed by Argyll and Bute Council’s local building control department, but Mr Hanson has told The Buteman that the hotel’s condition has deteriorated further since then – and that urgent repairs are needed soon before demolition becomes the only option.
“I’d heard a rumour that the Royal Hotel was coming down,” Mr Hanson said, “and I thought that for the good of Rothesay, that can’t be allowed to happen, so I went to George Hart and negotiated a price.
“The only reason I want to buy the building is to save it for Rothesay. I don’t have an end use in mind for it.
“I’ve had meetings with our MSP Michael Russell, with all three councillors, and with building control officials, and they all say it can’t come down.
“Unfortunately, although they’re all sympathetic, there doesn’t seem to be any money available.
“But I’ve seen the state of the building, and I’ve told everybody that if nothing is done in the near future I can’t see the Royal lasting through another winter.”
Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell, who paid a visit to the hotel during a recent visit to Rothesay, told The Buteman: “When I actually got inside the building I was shocked at the state of disrepair of the Royal and it is obvious that it needs urgent attention.
“It looks as if the buck stops, at present at least, with Argyll and Bute Council and I would urge them not to be hidebound by bureaucracy but to collaborate as a matter of urgency with anyone and everyone who is interested in saving the building.”
Mr Hart has owned the Royal since 1996, and has always stoutly defended himself against allegations that he has neglected the building.
Speaking to The Buteman this week, Mr Hart told us he simply had no more money to carry out repairs - and repeated his past criticism of public funding bodies who, he said, had failed to lift a finger to help him improve the building.
For the full story, see the August 5 issue of The Buteman.