ASK Newquay residents for a list of their top bugbears and the issue of derelict buildings is likely to feature on most.
Business and tourism leaders have been saying for years that eyesore sites such as the Fistral Bay and Cedars hotels are putting visitors off returning to the resort.
But the problem could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to the creation of a “proactive team” that aims to identify and improve the town’s derelict and untidy sites.
It has been set up by Cornwall Council’s Planning Enforcement Team and will work alongside Newquay Town Council’s Derelict Buildings Working Party (DBWP).
The team initially has five sites in its crosshairs: The Cedars Hotel, on St George’s Road; The Riviera Hotel, on Lusty Glaze Road; Fistral Bay Hotel, on Pentire Avenue; Bartrip Hotel, on Island Crescent; and Hotel Safi, on Narrowcliff.
Jon Drew, Cornwall Council’s Enforcement Group leader, said: “The council is keen to improve the condition of untidy and derelict sites and looks forward to working with Newquay Town Council at identifying sites with a view to looking at different ways to improve their appearance and ultimately bring them back into use.”
Councillor Isabel Pascoe, chair of the DBWP, added: “I’m delighted at this initiative; it’s a really good response to Newquay’s concerns. We’ve worked hard together with Cornwall Council and this is a good step in the right direction.”
Last summer the issue of derelict sites was thrust to the forefront of the town council’s agenda following a presentation by the Newquay Regeneration Forum (NRF).
The group presented shocking photos of 20 grot-spots, before urging members to push Cornwall Council to take action.
Gill Moore, NRF vice-chair, said: “We are really concerned that these buildings and these sites are having a lasting impact on the town that we really need to deal with as a matter of urgency.
“We would like the town council to take a lead and put this at the top of its agenda for the next four years.”
Last year planning minister Nick Boles, on a visit to the duchy, said Cornwall Council had been acting “a bit wet” in applying its powers under the Localism Act.
The NRF said councils could also use the Building Act 1984 to instruct site owners to refurbish or demolish buildings but at the time Cornwall Council’s planning chief Phil Mason said the Localism Act “granted no new rights for action on derelict buildings and their demolition”.
MP Stephen Gilbert said he was glad Cornwall Council had taken proactive steps to tackle the issue.
He said: “This is welcome news from the council who have responded to my calls and those of Lib Dems on the town council to take action over these derelict sites. I've been working closely with both Newquay Town Council and Cornwall Council to make them aware of the powers they do have to act, and I hope now to see concerted action to clear up these sites.”