Plans for a Premier Inn in Newbury blocked by councillors
West Berks Council vote unanimously against proposal for 110-bed hotel
PLANS by the UK’s largest hotelier to create what councillors described as a “hotel ghetto” in central Newbury have been turned down by West Berkshire Council.
Premier Inn first announced its intention to open a new, 110-bedrooom five-storey hotel next door to the Travelodge on London Road in July.
Newbury Town Council then complained that if it went ahead, visitors would clog up the town in search of parking spaces after it was revealed no on-site parking would be offered to hotel guests.
Last Wednesday at a western area planning committee meeting held in Newbury, West Berkshire Council sided with officers’ recommendations and refused the application altogether.
Council planning officers admitted that the current site was just a “shabby car park” and the economic benefits of a new hotel were clear, but that the impact on local amenity was too great.
Principal planning officer Michael Butler said: “There’s a known shortage of good hotels in town and it will provide 22 jobs.
“The application has much to commend it in principle, but it remains the significant impact on the residential dwellings to the east and south which means the application is recommended for refusal by officers.”
Two objectors, both nearby residents, told councillors their biggest concern was the effect the five-storey building would have on levels of sunlight, which in some instances would blot out 100 per cent of light.
One of the objectors, Patrick Samuel, said: “The occupants that are living there are going to be living in a cave because of the loss of sunlight.”
Speaking in support of the application was Siofra Boyd on behalf of Rolfe Judd Planning and Raf Hayat of Rotterdam Properties Ltd.
Ms Boyd said that the economic benefits “are clear” and stressed it would bring 22 jobs and encourage apprenticeships.
Jeff Beck (Con, Clay Hill) raised the issue of parking and questioned the applicant’s suggestion that visitors would solely use the nearby Parkway car park.
He said: “If a lot of people are going to arrive in the late morning we are potentially going to have a parking problem in Newbury because the Parkway car park is at times almost full.
“I do fear if this development goes through that we will be increasing the pressure on existing car parking.”
When asked what arrangements had been agreed with Parkway for using the car park, Raf Hayat of Rotterdam Properties admitted that they had had no discussions with them, adding it was a public car park and open to anybody.
Newbury town councillor James Fredrickson, who was speaking on behalf of residents, described the plan as “unacceptable” and said that if the development went ahead it would look like “a monumental prison wall” outside their windows.
Referring to the car park at Parkway he said: “Sometimes the car park is completely packed, sometimes it’s completely empty.
“I am sceptical that Parkway is the Holy Grail in answering that one.”
Councillor Beck was the first to propose they agree with officers and refuse the application.
Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley) said: “I think this is another hotel next door to another hotel and it’s creating a bit of a hotel alley or hotel ghetto.
“Irrespective of the application common sense would have told me that if it was at that site the houses will be severely affected by loss of light, particularly in the dark morning where every bit of sunlight is precious.
“I find it absolutely staggering this application has come forward with no consideration for the surrounding residents and there should be some really strong re-design if it comes again.”
Councillor Paul Hewer (Con, Hungerford) added: “I think we should send a clear message to go away and come back with something that’s more acceptable.”
The application was ultimately refused following a unanimous vote.