Planners “blinkered” by hotel proposal

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A HOTEL firm says councillors are wasting public money by opposing its plans.

Agellus Hotels is preparing to appeal after South Kesteven district councillors said they were “minded to refuse” permission for a hotel at 4 St Mary’s Place, Stamford.

The firm lost an appeal last year after its plans were turned down in 2009 but it was awarded costs because the council did not offer sufficient expert evidence.

The company says its new plans address the inspector’s reasons for refusal. Council planning staff recommended approval and the firm says it will appeal again and apply for costs if the plans are refused.

Last week the council’s development control committee decided not to back the plans and derred a decision. It is expected to refuse the application at a meeting on Tuesday, March 29.

Planning consultant for Agellus Hotels, Philip Grover, said: “In the current economic climate this degree of blinkered and irre-sponsible decision-making beggars belief. It will jeopardise not only the jobs that would flow from the approval of the scheme but could waste further precious council funds in the most challenging time for their budgets in the post-war era. At the end of the day it is the council tax payers of South Kesteven who will have to foot the bill for this irresponsible decision-making.”

The council and Agellus are yet to agree costs for the last appeal but the firm says it could be £100,000.

The inspector said it was inappropriate to put a wooden roof on a rear courtyard so this has been removed from the plans.

He also said customers using the garden could create noise and disturb neighbours so the firm now says only staff will use the garden.

Mr Grover said: “The decision of the committee is inexplicable since the two specific concerns that had been raised by the planning inspector in relation to the previously dismissed appeal have now been fully addressed.”

Agellus Hotels wants to convert the house, a listed building, into a boutique hotel with nine bedrooms and a restaurant with 66 covers.

It would demolish an office and greenhouse and build an extension. Guests’ cars would be parked in one of the town centre car parks.

Ward member Coun John Harvey (Con) has hit back, claiming planning officers have not considered the full effect of the hotel on the town’s heritage.

Coun Harvey is concerned about waste disposal and odours, traffic and the effect on the building.

He added: “The cost of another appeal process is completely immaterial. I shall make sure the council does its job properly and gives the right expert evidence to support refusal this time. We will fight the application all the way.”

Development control committee chairman Coun Alan Parkin (Con) declined to comment.