Concerns have been raised over plans to build flats and office accommodation in the crumbling car park of an historic hotel.
Oaklands Hotel, which manages the Royal Hotel, in Station Road, Ashby, is hoping to turn the neighbouring public pay and display car park, which it owns, into a black of 28 flats and office accommodation which could create around 30 jobs.
The firm has applied to North West Leicestershire District Council for permission, admitting that the new development would enable the hotel to remain open.
If it gets the green light a block of flats consisting of 13 one-bed, 13 two-bed and two three-bedrooms will be built, along with a separate block of office accommodation on the northern car park which also services the Bath Grounds. There would be 29 car parking spaces provided for the 28 flats, with 24 spaces provided for the office block.
The car park charges are currently enforced by the district council.
Agent Adam Murray, of Sheffield based Coda Planning, acting on behalf of the applicant, said in a report to the council: “The site has now come forward as a development opportunity in order to enable the future redevelopment and continued use of the Royal Hotel.
The site was previously occupied by Ivanhoe Baths, built in 1822. The Royal Hotel was built adjacent to the baths in 1826 to accommodate visitors to the growing spa. However by 1884 the baths became unused and after many decades standing empty and derelict, the building was demolished in 1962.
Mr Murray said: “The current use as an open car park blights the otherwise fine character of the area and is an inappropriate use of the site in such an attractive and historically important location within the town.
“The site currently serves the hotel and the adjacent Bath Grounds, however the quality of the hard standing has deteriorated in recent years and is breaking apart.”
The report added that the development will “create a residential development to contribute to the economic, social and cultural life of Ashby; enhance street frontages. A new building on the proposed site can help to fill a gap in the urban grain, creating a more cohesive edge along the street.
“(The development will include) replacement of a poor quality car park with a high density development of far greater value and benefits for the local area, and a sustainable, central location can promote ‘car free’ lifestyles and associated benefits in terms of personal health and higher disposable incomes.”
However, the application has been met with objections including from Ashby Town Council which says: “The planned buildings do not complement or enhance the heritage assets in the immediate vicinity: there will be insufficient car parking provision which is contrary to the planning authority's policy on the provision of car parking and concerns about the lack of car parking for the hotel when work starts on the new buildings."
Leicestershire County Council’s highways department, which has been asked to comment, said it wants more information before making comment, but did say: “As part of this current application, the applicant would remove the existing parking provision for the hotel, but not provide any replacement.
“The submitted transport statement indicates there is parking provision for six vehicles outside the front of the hotel for hotel patrons, however these unrestricted bays are within the public highway and can be used by any member of the public at any time and therefore cannot be classed as hotel parking.”
Other neighbours have also objected citing the potential for the development to be overbearing on their views of Bath Grounds, with one saying: “It seems to me that a great deal of effort has been made by the Friends of Ashby Bath Grounds to restore a sense of history and redevelopment of the most important green space in Ashby. In my view this development is an insult to all the work that has been done.”