Friends' Response to Revised Application
The Friends of Ashby Bath Grounds submitted a series of comments to the District Council on the revised application as follows:
We are encouraged that these proposals potentially offer a means of restoring the hotel as a viable enterprise but we have the following concerns:
- We seek reassurance that the proposed development is the minimum necessary to raise the funds required to restore the hotel, in accordance with the provisions for Enabling Development as set-out in the National Planning Policy Framework and Planning Practice Guidance.
- We need to be sure that the hotel, as proposed, will be a viable business enterprise once restored and unlikely to fail and drift back into another cycle of closure and deterioration.
- We need to know that the legal arrangements associated with the proposed s106 and Escrow agreements are sufficiently robust to ensure that the funds raised from the developments are indeed used to restore the hotel in accordance with the repairs schedule and restoration proposals included.
- We seek reassurance that the profits to be made from the whole package by the current owner are reasonable, again within the framework of Enabling Development guidance.
- We would like to see a means of sharing any excess profits with the people of Ashby in recognition of their £620k input for the purchase of the Bath Grounds.
- We question the need for the office building fronting Station Road, particularly as this will contribute only a relatively small amount to the hotel restoration. The hotel owners already occupy offices which are both close to the Royal and located within the Town centre area designated for office use. We question what will happen to these offices when vacated.
- We are concerned about the impact of the three-storey apartment building on the views from the Bath Grounds. Removing the office building from the plans could provide scope to relocate the apartment building further back from the Bath Grounds boundary, providing an opportunity for tree planting and additional landscaping along the boundary. This could reduce the impact of the apartment building upon the views from the Bath Grounds without undue impact on the setting of Rawdon Terrace or the Royal. It would also enable additional parking provision for the hotel and/or apartments.
The opinions of Historic England will be crucial on these issues, and we await their response to the planning consultation with interest.
With regard to the detailed design of the individual buildings, we feel that this is very much a matter of individual taste and aesthetics and, again, we will value the views of Historic England on whether the new buildings would be detrimental to the setting of the Royal Hotel and our historic Bath Grounds.
We also reiterate the concerns we previously expressed on the original plans submitted in 2019, particularly:
- Notwithstanding the viability arguments for exemption from local infrastructure contributions, we support the National Forest’s call for the developer to fund replacing the trees which will be lost and we also call for developer funding of a pedestrian crossing at the bottom of South Street to improve accessibility to the Bath Grounds and cater for the additional pedestrian traffic which the development will generate.
- The need for a detailed lighting and security scheme.
We understand that the developer has now stated that the hammerhead on the Bath Grounds for HGV turning is no longer required as part of the development access arrangements and trust this means that future provisions for limiting vehicular access onto the Bath Grounds from the southern access will be the at sole discretion of Ashby Town Council (whether as leaseholder or freehold owner).
The developer has now recognised the Ashby Neighbourhood Plan but remain concerned that they have not adequately addressed the Plan’s environmental and design policies (particularly NE5 and S4), such as the provision of swift or bat boxes, the addition of green roofs and enhancing the coverage of trees.