At 06:30 this morning, Sat 18 Dec 2010, someone or something set fire to the once much love Palm Court Hotel. At one point there were 8 fire engines in attendance but about one third of the building has been gutted.*
The hotel part of the building has been closed for years so there were no guests in residence. The left hand end of the building (looking from the sea) had been used as a bar over the last few summers but had closed at the end of the season just before the police were going to close it down anyway due to inappropriate behaviour on and around the premises.
A couple of years ago a developer signed a deal with the Council to pull the place down and rebuild as a mix of bar, hotel and apartments. Months and months went by and nothing happened. Then, eventually the council asked the developer why nothing was happening. He replied that he was still looking for backing for his project, please be patient. So the council was patient for months and months and even more months. Then the developer announced he had gone bust. There has been a for sale sign on the hotel ever since.
Judging by the damage the fire has caused the whole building will probable end up being knocked down and turned into a car park.
This isn't the first time fire has gutted an empty hotel in the Torbay area. There is the problem of squatters in empty hotels and it was very cold last night so a small fire to warm cold hands could have got out of control. Or maybe some local decided that the building was a continued blot on the beautiful landscape of Torquay and decided to speed up the process of turning the site from delerict building to block of flats or car park.
Also I am a bit concerned for the future of the hotel I used to work at which is presently standing empty and boarded up. Sorry Sherwood, it could happen to you if a buyer isn't found soon.