Long Island hotel: 'applicants can go back to the drawing board', say politicians (From Watford Observer)
Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting WO to 80360, or email us
Long Island hotel in Rickmansworth: 'applicants can go back to the drawing board', say politicians
Politicians have urged that developers rethink a controversial planning application to turn a Rickmansworth hotel into 31 residential units.
Proposals to transform Long Island Exchange, in Victoria Close, into 27 flats and four houses were discussed by Three Rivers District Council’s planning meeting on Thursday.
The committee asked developers to retain parts of the original building and incorporate it into the new plans for the site.
While Long Island Exchange has been earmarked for housing in the district’s allocation site list, there is still resistance to the plans to demolish Rickmansworth’s last remaining hotel.
Speaking against the application Nina Hosking, chairman of the Rickmansworth Chamber of Commerce, urged the council to reconsider allocating the building for housing and asked that the hotel be kept as it has a thriving occupancy rate.
She explained: "We are at a loss as to why this site was identified in the site allocation for housing and we would appeal for the committee to remove this from the list."
An application has been submitted to English Heritage for the building to be designated as a listed building.
Ms Hosking said the hotel "continues at 100 percent occupancy on most days of the week" and is essential to businesses in the area.
She added: "This is a valued part of our community and our business economic growth potential."
This is the third application that has been submitted to Three Rivers to turn Long Island Exchange into residential units.
Proposals to turn the hotel into 87 flats and five town houses were thrown out in December 2012.
A revised plan to build 65 residential units was refused in March 2013.
Speaking for the application, Martin Jewell said that the applicant, Keay Homes, has endeavoured to address some of the council’s concerns which arose from the previous applications.
He said Keay Homes would be "willing" to discuss the plans further with the council.
Ann Shaw, leader of the Liberal Democrat-run council, said she would like the applicant to incorporate the original building in the plans.
She said that the application "misses the point completely", and added: "What I would ask is, has there been any consideration by the applicant to retaining the oldest part of the site?"
On July 23, the hotel was added to the district council’s list of locally important buildings, which identifies it as a building that has architectural and historical interest.
Conservative councillor Amrit Mediratta, who represents Moor Park and Eastbury, said: "I know that locally listed buildings can be demolished but what’s the point of going through this exercise of having this building listed and then having it demolished.
"I think the applicants can go back to the drawing board and merge the existing buildings."
The application is due to be heard in full at next month’s planning meeting.