Crisis talks over future of Harpenden House Hotel

PUBLISHED: 11:34 20 March 2014 | UPDATED: 11:34 20 March 2014

Harpenden House Hotel

Harpenden House Hotel

Archant

Harpenden House hotel campaigners will speak at an extraordinary town council meeting next week to try and halt the conversion of the building into flats.

Backed by a petition of almost 1,500 signatures the group hopes to address the “community asset” status of the site at the Harpenden town council (HTC) meeting this Monday, March 24, and lobby for its continued use as a hotel.

This comes after they were denied the opportunity to speak at a St Albans district council planning policy committee meeting two weeks ago, as it was subsequently decided that it was not appropriate for that committee.

Local resident John Hansen and founder of the petition said: “Planning policy seemed to be an appropriate forum for asking St Albans district council to speed up implementation of Community Asset status options, but now the challenge is to get the issue discussed and actioned as soon as possible”

“Time is now of the essence, with last bookings apparently March 22; we need to see St Albans and Harpenden urgently discussing Community Asset issues both between themselves and with the Hotel.”

According to a number of St Albans and Harpenden councillors no real action against the development can be taken until a planning application is submitted.

Co-founder of the petition and business owner Hillary Taylor said: “Waiting for planning permission may be too late.

“In a prime position with superb features, the hotel has good turnover and is an asset to our town, community and infrastructure.

“I urge SADC and HTC councils to urgently debate Community Assets and actions necessary for their protection, for the benefit of our community.”

Speaking about the long term implications of losing the site to luxury accommodation, she went on: “We need to look after it not just for today, but also for whoever wants to live here in 25 years time.

“I don’t want to be part of a decision that messes things up in 25 years time.

“From all the signatures and comments that have come in, it’s clear what the feeling is in the town.”

Fairview New Homes released a consultation statement earlier this week after exchanging contracts on the site.

The company, which will complete purchase of the site on April 3, said Harpenden House has been compromised over time with inappropriate development and they hope to improve the setting of the listed building, adding: “Engagement with the local community will be of paramount importance to help inform the design solution for this site.”

Residents are being invited to make a comment on the development at: http://harpendenhouseconsultation.com/

For more information or to sign the petition visit http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/saveharpendenhouse#tabs-2

The extraordinary meeting will be held at 7.30pm at Harpenden Town Hall in Leyton Road.

The full contents of the Harpenden House Hotel are being auctioned off next week by Hertfordshire Auctions, including fixtures and fittings, chandeliers and paintings.


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