Plans to turn the Allen Building – at one end of the City of Bath College’s Milk Street campus – into a six storey 202-bedroomed hotel have been refused at a meeting of B&NES Planning Committee today – Wednesday, June 6th.
The application was refused by seven votes to three on design grounds.
It will certainly please bodies as diverse at Bath Preservation Trust, Bath Independent Guesthouse Association and the Federation of Bath Residents’ Associations. who had formally objected to the proposals.
On top of that 161 objections had come in from individual members of the public, local businesses and other hotels in the city.
They collectively seem to be saying the city has enough hotels and that any more will kill the businesses of existing hotels and smaller guesthouses.
In documents presented to the committee members, the objections were summarised in a long list which l print below.
o Excessive development which is not required;
o The estimated requirement for hotel beds is 500-700 by 2030; by 2018 there will have been in excess of 700 rooms added to the market;
o 333 rooms are planned to open this year (2018)
o New hotel supply needs to be carefully managed; there will be an oversupply;
o The new market should settle down before more hotel space is approved;
o There are also additional Airbnb rooms and student accommodation let as overnight accommodation which have not been taken into account;
o Existing small and medium businesses will be put at risk of failure due to lack of demand;
o There will be a contraction in the hotel market in Bath;
o More competition could jeopardize existing hotel businesses;
o There is no transport strategy;
o This hotel will generate an additional 100-115 cars per day plus service vehicles;
o Car parking problems, there is already a shortage in the city centre;
o Avon Street is reducing in size
o Additional traffic congestion;
o The Bath Futures study identifies that upscale mid-market hotels are now oversupplied;
o Waste collection problems;
o Employment market cannot support the number of positions;
o There are already pressures with the national living wage, pension contributions and Brexit;
o Bath should not become a city of chain hotels;
o Bath will become like Bournemouth with cheap accommodation and stag and hen groups;
o Poor design, It is an unimaginative, square, cheap looking block;
o Bath has lost his authenticity and charms;
o Out of keeping with the character of the city;
o This is a London office style construction;
o Bath is becoming a miniature Disneyland;
o The original plan for this site was offices; this plan should remain;
o Offices would be more beneficial to the economy of the city;
o The unchecked development of hotels, student numbers or any other single-focus activity will disrupt the city’s delicate balance;
o Bath is already short of affordable housing;
o Large international companies are taking more and more of the tourism revenue in Bath;
o Bath Quays North is supported as it will provide more office development;
o Bath needs to develop a more diverse economy;
o Bath will become a clone of other locations.
Bath MP Wera Hobhouse has also come out against the application which she says was a step too far.
In a statement she says:
“Enough is enough. Residents rightly feel that there are already too many big hotels in Bath. The interests of local people are coming second to those of the big companies wanting to build more and more hotels and turn Bath into Disneyland on Avon.
We have to get the balance right between tourism, which is vital to Bath’s economy, and the needs of residents for a place to live and enjoy. ‘
Bath Newseum also received a letter from Simona Thompson who is in the guest house business herself.
‘I own a small B&B at Percy Place on the London Road. I am a member of BIGHA and will be attending the meeting of the Development Management Committee to be held tomorrow at 2pm at the Guildhall in Bath.
The opening of the Apex hotel last year and by the increased number of Airbnb accommodations in Bath have badly affected the independent B&Bs and guest houses in Bath.
My occupancy rate in June (tourist high season in Bath) is 50% down. Year on year, from January to May my turnover decreased by 10%.
I am sure that you understand my concerns on the future of my business and on the future of Bath as a quality tourist destination.’