Friends of Ashby Bath Grounds
Planning application 19/01792 FULM (Sept. 2019) for
developments in the Royal Hotel Grounds
Oakland Hotels Ltd and Peveril Homes Ltd have submitted a planning application to the NWLDC planning department for the:
‘Erection of a 30 apartment terrace, B1(c) office building, cafe kiosk and 45 senior living apartment block with associated car parking access, landscaping and associated access amendments’.
As you may be aware, the principle objective of the Friends of Ashby Bath Grounds (FOABG) is to protect and improve the Bath Grounds as a free, public access park and recreational facility for the benefit of the whole community.
Our collective efforts have gone a long way towards achieving that objective. The support of our members and the almost 8000 Ashby residents who signed our petition against development on the Bath Grounds have resulted in the Developer withdrawing the proposal to build houses on the Bath Grounds from their new plans.
The Town Council’s proposed purchase of the freehold of the Bath Grounds (see Housing on the Bath Grounds page) from Oakland Hotels (which is dependent on the Developer gaining planning approval for this new application) will secure the Bath Grounds for the community, removing any threat to development on this important heritage green space and allowing the cricket and bowls clubs to extend their leases and apply for the sports development funding which they desperately need.
2019 Application Masterplan
There are four aspects to the current planning application (numbers refer to the Masterplan drawing above).
1. Royal Hotel
Although not part of this application, it is proposed by Oakland’s Hotels that the Royal Hotel will be refurbished as follows:
The hotel will provide 29 bedrooms together with a new 86 cover restaurant and small, conference and meeting facilities. It is estimated that it will create 25 full time and 25 part-time jobs. There will be 60 car- parking spaces for hotel use.
The developer states that ‘All of the individual elements are required to raise funding to restore the Royal Hotel and for it to reopen for its optimum beneficial use.’
2. Apartment Terrace
This is located on the eastern side of the car park to the north of the Royal Hotel. It sits on the site of the former Ivanhoe Spa. It will provide 30, one and two bedroom apartments with balcony’s. The building will be of a contemporary design and be constructed of three storeys plus a lower ground floor. There will be 43 car-parking space
3. Senior Living Building
This is to be located to the south of the Royal Hotel within the wooded area of Hastings Garden and will accommodate 45 units. This will be four storeys, including a guest suite for visitors and a homeowner’s lounge and outdoor terrace. The ground floor will accommodate an office, staff space and a scooter store. Access will be off a revised Station Road entrance. It will involve the loss of some trees to enable construction of the building and associated parking. Some 29 car parking spaces will be provided together with cycle racks.
This will be located immediately adjacent the footpath that runs along the western edge of the Baths Ground. It will be a single storey unit of approx. 70 sq metres. It would also incorporate some outdoor seating. The facility would be available for hotel guests and people enjoying the Baths Grounds
9. Office Building
This is located at the western end of the existing northern car park and to the north of the hotel. This is a single storey building with a 6 space car park and cycle storage.
Access to Bath Grounds
The southern access onto Station Road will serve the Senior Living Building and the Hotel. This road will also provide access to the cricket club and Baths Ground for pedestrians and vehicles.
Our Opinion of the Planning Application
Having reviewed the current application, the FOABG Committee had a number of concerns and submitted the following response:
‘The following comments are submitted on behalf of the Committee of the Friends of Ashby Bath Grounds:
1. We note that there is no reference in the Application to the policy requirements laid down in the Ashby Neighbourhood Plan. In particular, the Application is silent on the requirements of Policy S4.1 (National Forest Design Charter), Policy S4.4 (High Quality Superfast Broadband), Policy S4.5 (The provision of electrical car charging points), Policy S4.7 (Biodiversity), in particular there is no mention of the need to incorporate swift or bat boxes, green roofs, wildlife habitats or any reference to additional tree planting to offset the loss of mature grade A trees.
We also note that contrary to Policy H5 of the Neighbourhood Plan there is no provision for ‘affordable housing’ within the proposed development.
2. Developer Contributions: We note that there is no reference in the Application to contributions via a Section 106 Agreement to improvements in local infrastructure. At the very least, given that the development will have a significant impact on pedestrian movement from the South Street entrance of the Bath Grounds into the town centre, a contribution towards the provision of a pedestrian crossing at this point should be negotiated. In addition, we would have expected a commuted sum to be agreed as an ‘Allotment Provision’ in accordance with Policy NE3 of the Neighbourhood Plan.
3. Transport Statement: It would appear that this has been included in the Application in substitution for a ’Travel Plan’ which would have been expected with a development of this scale, is it the Council’s intention to request a Travel Plan?
We note that the criteria used in the Transport Statement to justify the adequacy of the car parking provision for the hotel is in conflict with information provided in the Planning Statement. In particular, the calculations in the Transport Statement are based on a 60 cover restaurant in the hotel whilst the Planning Statement talks about an 85 cover restaurant. Clarification is required on this issue, particularly having regard to the potential impact on car parking spaces for the hotel.
We have some concern regarding the adequacy of parking spaces for the residents, staff and visitors to the Senior Living Block. The 29 spaces allocated appear inadequate for a 45 apartment development of this nature. The ratio of spaces to apartments is significantly lower than the recently completed McCarthy & Stone development which is widely quoted in the Application as justification for this proposed development. We would ask the Council to consider this issue carefully as the viability of the development may be compromised by such a limitation.
The access for service vehicles to the Senior Living block would be via the southern entrance, with vehicles using the Bath Grounds car park as a ‘turning head’, with retractable bollards being used to create the necessary turning area. We believe that this will not be a practical or workable option, particularly when the car park is in full use by the cricket club. We would ask that the Council examine this aspect of the Application very carefully to ensure a solution can be found which does not adversely compromise the few car parking spaces that are currently available on the Bath Grounds car park.
We would also ask that measures are put in place to prevent vehicles parking along the full length of the southern access road.
Clause 3.29 of the Transport Statement states: ‘In accordance with the Leicestershire Highway Design Guide, cycle parking at hotels should be assessed on a site by site basis and the senior living development should provide one cycle space for every five dwellings. Hence a total of 6 cycle parking spaces are provided for the senior living apartments’.
Given that there are 45 senior living dwellings in the development, we suggest that there should be 9 cycle parking spaces provided.
4. Drawing No (08)012B is misleading in that it makes reference to a ‘public car park’ when there is no such provision in the proposed scheme.
The same drawing also indicates that the Listed stone boundary wall which is to be modified and partly rebuilt to create the southern entrance is topped with a fence of some description. We are not aware that this was part of the original wall and as such we do not believe it should be there. In addition, the wall appears much lower than its current height. This issue should be addressed to ensure that the wall is rebuilt to the original proportions having regard to the essential modifications to create the access.
5. Lighting and Security: whilst we note that the Applicant states that external lighting will be dealt with through planning detail, we would strongly suggest that the issue of external lighting, CCTV and other security issues are considered in detail and an appropriate scheme incorporated into the Application before it is considered by the Planning Committee. These areas have a recent history of anti-social behaviour and it would be remiss of the Council if they were to allow a scheme which didn’t remove the possibility of this issue reoccurring in the future.'
The Royal Hotel closed in March 2018 in need of total refurbishment.
An exhibition by Oakland Hotels entitled the ‘Royal Ashby Project’ was held at St Helen’s Heritage Centre on Friday July 6th 2018. This exhibition was to allow adequate opportunity for the community to consider, understand and comment on the nature of the proposals - members of the public, as well as Parish and District councillors, attended this session.
The Royal Ashby Project proposal included: a new residential block on the site of the old Ivanhoe Baths on the Royal Hotel car park, a new senior living block within the gardens of the Royal Hotel, five dwellings on the Bath Grounds near the Prior Park Rd entrance and a kiosk/café at the back of the Royal Hotel. It did not cover the refurbishment of the Royal Hotel.
All this development, the public were informed, had to be achieved in order to raise the monies to refurbish the Royal Hotel.
A previous application had already been approved in 2014 to refurbish the Royal Hotel 14/00105/LBC. (Demolition of side and rear extensions of hotel, erection of side /rear extension to hotel, internal works, partial demolition and rebuilding of boundary wall to form visibility splays).
Although supportive in principle of the proposed developments either side of the Royal Hotel in order to ensure the refurbishment of the Hotel itself, the FOABG strongly objected to the building of the five dwellings on the Bath Grounds. It was as a result of this proposal by Oakland Hotels that the FOABG launched their ‘Save the Bath Grounds Campaign’ on the 6th July 2018. Over the summer of 2018 we were overwhelmed with public support against this proposal with our petition gaining nearly 8000 signatures against any development on any part of the Bath Grounds, sending a clear message to Oakland Hotels and the Town Council that the people of Ashby did not want their precious Bath Grounds despoiled by development.
In January 2019 Oakland Hotels submitted their planning application for a redesigned proposal which omitted any development on the Bath Grounds itself (the Hastings Garden is not officially part of the Bath Grounds and is not included in the Town Council's lease).
AIso instrumental to this change was an agreement in principle between Oakland Hotels and the Town Council for the purchase of the freehold of the Bath Grounds for the sum of £620k on behalf of the residents of Ashby. This agreement is subject to the new application gaining approval. It is our understanding that the agreement between Oakland Hotels and the Town Council, seeks to ensure that the monies from this sale will go toward the refurbishment and re-opening of the Royal Hotel.
Current status of Planning Application 19/01792
The application has not yet been considered by the District Council Planning Committee. A significant number of objections have been lodged by local residents and organisations including Ashby Civic Society. Probably most significant are the objections from Historic England who are very concerned about the impact of the proposed buildings on the setting of the Royal Hotel itself. We understand that the developers have agreed to a redesign of the proposed buildings and the revised plans have been awaited for many months now. We understand that the revised proposal will replace the "Assisted Living" block on the Hastings Garden with an elderly persons care home. We also understand that the developer has agreed that this development will be treated as "enabling development" for the Royal Hotel refurbishment, which should provide significant guarantees that the Royal Hotel will be properly refurbished in accordance with its Grade 2* listed status and as a viable business should the planning application be granted. However, we have become increasingly concerned about the continuing deterioration of the Royal Hotel and have been urging the District Council to ensure that it is properly maintained whilst empty. As a result, an Urgent Works Notice was issues in December 2020 and Historic England have now placed the Royal Hotel on its "At Risk Register".