Fate of Rickmansworth's Long Island Exchange to be sealed at meeting tonight (From Watford Observer)
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Fate of Rickmansworth's Long Island Exchange to be sealed at meeting tonight
Controversial plans to demolish Rickmansworth’s last remaining hotel have been recommended for approval by Three Rivers staff, although none of the homes are designated as affordable housing.
Politicians are due to decide the fate of Long Island Exchange at a district council planning meeting tonight.
This is the fourth application lodged by Keay Homes to demolish the Victoria Close hotel and turn it into flats and houses.
The new plans detail Keay Homes’ intention to convert the original Long Island Exchange building into eight apartments and to demolish the existing hotel extension and construct 25 apartments and four houses.
Previous requests put forward to the council which were thrown out include proposals to build 87 flats and five townhouses, plans to construct 65 residential units and an application to erect 31 new homes.
However, this application, which seeks permission to build 37 new homes on the site, has been recommended for approval by district council officers.
Of the 37 homes proposed, none are designed to be affordable and sizes will range from one-bed accommodation to five-bed.
Reports reveal that there are concerns surrounding the lack of affordable housing within the proposals.
Comments over housing needs and the district’s local plan reveal that there is concern surrounding the lack of affordable housing.
Officers state that: "Local plans have no objection, in principle, to the redevelopment of Long Island Exchange for residential use. However we do have concerns about the provision of affordable housing and the proposed housing mix."
Further comments added: "For any news builds we would like to receive the appropriate amount of affordable units especially as there are 37 new units being built."
Objections were also put forward by the Watford and West Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, which explained that: "(This) does not support current business or encourage business visitors to the town.
"Once lost to residential, the town will not be able to recover the site for commercial use in the future."
Rickmansworth and District Residents Association lodged objections on the grounds that: "This hotel is the only one in Rickmansworth, is well used and makes a valuable financial contribution to the local economy and as such its loss will impact on the continuing viability and growth of local business's and indeed Watersmeet."
The original building dates back to 1887. In July last year, the hotel was added to Three Rivers’ list of locally important buildings.
This identifies that the building has architectural and historical interest. However, this does not protect it from development.