Frank James Hospital in East Cowes.
PART of the solution to saving historic Frank James Hospital, East Cowes, could lie with the Queen’s landowner, Crown Estates, it has emerged.
Crown Estates confirmed this week it had taken over ownership of some land and parts of the Grade II listed building in 2009 and could sell it on to a private bidder.
However, Crown Estates said it could not be held responsible for the management of the derelict building, or any liabilities that surrounded it as it would incur a 'heavy financial burden’.
The latest twist to the saga was revealed this week when the Isle of Wight Council’s head of planning, Bill Murphy, wrote to The Friends of Frank James Hospital to update the pressure group on the council’s plans to rescue the building.
In the letter, Mr Murphy confirmed there were 'complex ownership issues’ in relation to the site. He added the council was unable to recover any costs from Crown Estates that the authority could incur from maintaining the hospital.
He said: "In a nutshell, the Isle of Wight Council is unable to take any action and the matter now rests with the Crown and Crown solicitors. It is likely the Crown, should it choose to sell, will seek a commercial price, thus further inhibiting the council to get involved."
A Crown Estates spokesman confirmed it would be seeking a 'best price’ for the portions of the building that it owned.
He added that appropriate local bodies had powers to maintain properties such as Frank James.
He said: "We are not responsible for the management of ownerless land or its future but can return such land to private ownership by selling it to an appropriate party. To date, we have received no inquiries from parties interested in purchasing the properties in question."
As previously reported, the Isle of Wight Council is being offered legal advice from English Heritage on ways in which the crumbling hospital can be saved.