A development proposal was put forward by Shape Real Estate in June 2018. Called "The Royal Ashby Project", this included five large, 3 storey, residential buildings on the Bath Grounds - in the same position as proposed in 2014 (later withdrawn) near the Prior Park Road entrance.
Shape Real Estate is one of a large number of companies that Simon Dawson (Oaklands Hotels) is associated with.
What you need to know
- This development would seriously impinge on Ashby’s most loved green space.
- Building on this section of the Bath Grounds would result in the loss of beautiful vistas across from the castle to the Royal and into and out of the Castle View Wildlife Walk.
- The development wiould result in the loss of important recreational open space in the heart of Ashby.
The developer claimed these houses were needed to restore and reopen the Royal Hotel
Given the recent history of the Royal Hotel and that the developer had recently closed the Royal Hotel and neglected both the grade 2* listed Georgian Royal Hotel and its car park for many years, this proposal could be construed as an attempt to sway public opinion in favour of their plans to build on the Bath Grounds.
Sympathetic development of residential accommodation on either side of the Royal Hotel would be welcomed, but not at the price of building on the unique historic Bath Grounds and removing the open countryside feel and vistas to and from Ashby Castle.
Who is the developer?
Companies House listing showed that, at that time, the owner had 20 active development companies, Shape Real Estate being one of these, along with another 8 dissolved/liquidated companies to date. https://bit.ly/2M99BAT
There were no guarantees to ensure that the developer would abide by conditions to renovate the Royal Hotel. The developer could sell the hotel in any state of repair and with no guarantees that renovation as a hotel would take place as indicated, or that the final building could be viable as a hotel (with its greatly reduced grounds and gardens for complementary hotel additions). There was no significant information provided in the way of market research into the viability of the proposed renovated hotel.
Did we need this development in order to secure the rest of the Bath Grounds for the community?
No. The Town Council had a lease on the Bath Grounds with five years still to run and a right to renew that lease for a further 28 years.
Does Ashby need more houses?
No. The new Local Plan already allocated more than the necessary housing land needed in the District until 2031. In fact, it expected that almost 1000 more houses will be developed than the identified requirement. Ashby was already taking a disproportionate amount of that new housing, with another 2050 houses allocated to Money Hill in the plan.
In February 2014 Oakland Hotels, who own the Bath Grounds and the Royal Hotel, applied to North West Leicestershire District Council for Planning Permission to build five, large, three storey modern "villas" at the eastern end of the Bath Grounds. They also applied for permission to extend the Royal Hotel and build a large "pavilion" and "kiosk" on the car park. The picture at the top of this page is the developer's artist's impression of the new "villas" as seen from the Bath Grounds. The Friends of the Bath Grounds mounted a vigorous campaign opposing these applications. We believe that the Bath Grounds are a precious, irreplaceable community open space, fundamental to the character of Ashby and that they need to be protected from any development which is not for enhancing community recreational use.
Over 600 letters of objection were lodged against the "Pavilion" and "Kiosk" at the Royal Hotel.
Ashby Town Council Planning Committee objected to both applications on grounds of loss of open space and poor design. However when it came to the District Council Planning Committee, those members of Ashby Town Council who also sit on that Committee all voted in favour of the Royal Hotel Application.
Applications for the renovation of the Royal Hotel and the building of the 'pavilion' on the Royal Hotel car park were approved in 2014 - but no work has been started to date and both the Hotel and the car park slowly became more and more dilapidated over the next 4 years.
A further planning application was submitted by Oakland hotels, in the summer of 2017, for a revised building plan on the hotel car park (an office block and an apartment block) - there were a large number of objections towards the height and style of these proposed buildings and the application was withdrawn in July 2018 without proceeding to the District Council Planning Committee.
The Royal Hotel was closed in March 2018 by Oakland Hotels and boarded up. This new proposal which they are calling the 'Royal Ashby Project' is proposing a number of revised buildings and includes building five residential buildings on the Bath Grounds again. A planning application for this scheme has not yet been submitted.