Chiswell Green hotel scheme back before planning tonight

Doubletree hotel

Doubletree hotel - Credit: supplied

Despite a substantial reduction in the size of a hotel proposed for a Green Belt site, planning officers are recommending that the new scheme should be refused this evening.

Although the proposed Hilton Doubletree Hotel and conference centre at the Copsewood site in Chiswell Green has undergone a design change which means the hotel would be 25 per cent smaller than the one which got outline planning approval in 2013, St Albans planning referrals committee is being recommended to refuse it at tonight’s meeting.

The main sticking points for planning officers are the change to the landscape setting of the hotel caused by the retention of a bungalow on site, re-routing of the internal access road, the design of the hotel building which would have a flat roof on two sides, heavier cladding, the positioning and extent of car parking and hardstanding and the limited landscape buffer and loss of trees adjacent to the A405.

The amended plans include the retention of the bungalow, known as Cleveland, which would provide management offices and accommodation away from the hotel building.

Nicola Bond, director of St Albans-based applicants 51 Pegasus, explained at the time the new application was submitted that by keeping Cleveland, the size of the hotel building could be reduced.

She said: “The area taken by the hotel and parking is much reduced. Consequently there is a very significant increase in the soft landscaping, in addition over 2,000 young trees will be planted and many more mature trees can be retained than previously.”

But it is the retention of the bungalow which concerns officers who maintain that the layout of the site has suffered with a reduction in the envisaged parkland setting.

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It also means that the internal access road to the hotel would have to be relocated to the west which would be aesthetically less pleasing and that, combined with the provision of additional car parking spaces on a more prominent part of the site, reduces the landscaping element.

The new application has attracted a handful of objections including from St Stephen parish council which has reiterated its opposition to the scheme on a Green Belt site.