A second bid to build a Premier Inn on a car park in Falmouth has been backed by Cornwall Council planning officers.
Fresh plans for a hotel on land near Events Square in Falmouth were submitted in November and have already prompted a wave of protest from local residents and hoteliers.
New Cornwall Development’s original proposal for a 74 bedroom Premier Inn on the site of the Discovery Quay car park was refused at appeal in August when the planning inspector claimed it would harm the living conditions of the occupiers of apartments 3, 4 and 5, Campbeltown Way through significant loss of outlook.
The new application is for a 68 bedroom hotel and restaurant with seven parking spaces and attempts to address the inspector’s objection.
The development would lead to the loss of 21 pay and display car park spaces and protestors say it will increase demand on those remaining.
This has been done by “significantly” reducing the overall height of the eastern wing by staggering each storey to mitigate the impact on the adjoining residential properties along Campbeltown Way.
In the design and access statement accompanying the application, it says: “The design development of this proposal follows extensive and productive consultation not only with the end user, but also with local residents and businesses, the town council and Cornwall Council planning authority and the comments received has led to an extensive redesign of the proposal to reflect the views and advice given.”
The scheme has now been given conditional approval, with Cornwall Council’s central sub-area planning committee due to meet on Monday.
The recomendation is that: "Delegated authority to be granted to the Head of Planning and Regeneration to approve the application subject to the conditions as set out in the Report (plus any additional conditions discussed at, or brought to, the meeting) and the completion of a Section 106 to secure a financial contributions towards sustainable transport initiatives in Falmouth to a total of £63,430 and a Traffic Regulation Order in relation to delivery restriction on Campbeltown Way."
The planning officer added that: "he proposed stepped reduction in height and greater articulation of that part of the building as now proposed closest to Fisher Court are such that occupiers of the neighbouring properties would no longer have an outlook to a three storey blank wall, instead having a single storey with taller elements behind in the form of a stepped roof which in itself would be significantly less oppressive.
"The proposal is considered to be acceptable in all other respects and it is concluded
there are no other reasons to warrant a refusal of planning permission.
"It is evident from the appeal Inspector's report that the principle of this development is acceptable in this location. The assessment of the key planning issues in the Inspector’s report is considered to be relevant material and has been taken into account as part of the conclusions reached in this report.
In regards to parking, the planning officer said: "The development would lead to the loss of 21 pay and display car park spaces, however, this loss of a relatively small proportion of spaces on a site adjacent to the Grove Hill and former T.A Centre Car Parks would not add to car parking congestion to an unacceptable level."
Approximately 130 individuals have submitted letters/emails/ or online submissions objecting to the proposal.
The new application is also being opposed by the Falmouth and District Hotels’ Association. Its chairman, Shaun Davie, said: “It comes as little surprise to us that revised plans have been submitted by New Cornwall Developments again and that although the size of the building has been addressed, we see the changes indicated are insignificant and little has changed. We do not object to such competition and development for our town should be welcomed. Yet, such an oversized hotel especially so close to sites of historical importance and residential properties does not fit into the centre of our unique town.
“Falmouth residents and our visitors wish it to remain exclusive and such an over bearing, generic building belongs sited in an out of town area as do most budget hotels in this country.”
The officer addressed competition with other hotels/guesthouses in his report, saying that the national planning framework is "explicit in that competition and choice in town centres is considered a positive thing and should be promoted. Therefore, whilst a significant volume of objections have been received in relation to this application on competition grounds or expressing opinions about the need for budget hotels and chain franchises within Falmouth. I have not attached any significant weight to this consideration within my assessment."
Falmouth town council have also refused to back the plans, saying, "the council objects to the planning application on the grounds of over-development, as a five storeys were bulky and overbearing in that location, that the development was inappropriate for the location, detrimentally affecting the character and that the traffic assessment was flawed and failed to recognise the coastal nature of the town and therefore its current and future needs in terms of traffic infrastructure, which the application failed to meet.
The planning application can be viewed in full by searching for PA13/09610 on www.cornwall.gov.uk.