Hotel conversion to get go-ahead?

LondsRP08120''Londesboro Arms

LondsRP08120''Londesboro Arms

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A FRESH attempt to convert part of an historic Grade II listed hotel into flats is to be discussed next week- and looks set to be given the green light.

The Londesborough Arms Hotel in Market Weighton has stood for hundreds of years, and is the only hotel in the town, but a section of the building could be transformed into eight separate units with planning permission recommended to be given approval.

The proposals, which are a renewed version of an application that was rejected several years ago, could also see two cottages built on the grounds.

Previous attempts to convert the entire hotel into 19 residential units were turned down twice in 2006, while two attempts to convert part of the building into eight flats were rejected a year later.

An appeal was granted and the findings of the planning inspector will now be used to support the application.

It would mean that the hotel is reduced in size to ten bedrooms.

The report explains: “The inspector decided that the main issues of the appeal were whether a conversion to flats would represent a loss of community facilities, prejudicial to the vitality and viability of Market Weighton.

“The inspector found that the evidence weighed in favour of a more compact hotel operation of the sort proposed in the appeal scheme.

“The financial viability of the business was considered to be dependant on the hotel business being reduced in scale so as to presumably improve occupancy rates.”

In terms of the Grade II listing, the inspector claimed that the alterations would be minor and not affect its character.

They also claimed that noise impact between hotel guests and residents in the eight flats would not be an issue, while claims of inadequate car parking were also dismissed.

Market Weighton Town Council had also objected, hoping that the building would remain exclusively a hotel, and felt that residential development in the town should be halted until existing drainage problems have been resolved.

Mayor of Market Weighton, Councillor Peter Hemmerman, said: “Mainly it is still felt by a majority of councillors that the hotel needs to be retained for hotel accommodation in its entirety.

“There is a Walkers are Welcome national conference coming to Market Weighton this year and we have no accommodation to offer at present!

“It will be sad to see such a traditional building and important part of Market Weighton’s history debased in this way.

“There are other similar hotels of the same size and location in Yorkshire that run successfully and I cannot understand why the effort has not been made to market and run the Londesborough Arms in the same way.”

Built in the 1700s, the hotel was originally a coach house for travellers and traders.

In recent years it fell into disrepair and has had a string of new managers who have struggled to turn its fortunes around.

In support of the proposed changes, applicant John Cattaneo is described in the report as an “experienced hotelier” who believes the hotel will only be sustainable at a reduced size.

The hotel has recorded substantial financial losses over the last three years with overnight tourism labelled as “non existent”.

Mr Cattaneo says the main core of the building will be retained, with few changes to the external appearance.

The report on behalf of the applicant reads: “This proposed compromise scheme would bring an end to the last 17 years of numerous well-qualified managers failing to make this site profitable, and in doing so would present an optimistic future for the Londesborough Arms Hotel.”

The application will be discussed at East Riding Council’s western area planning sub-committee meeting on Tuesday, 22 March in Beverley.