Green light for ‘landmark’ hotel on St Albans Green Belt site

Doubletree hotel

Doubletree hotel

supplied

Revised plans for a four-storey hotel in St Albans Green Belt have been given the go-ahead despite residents’ objections to it being ‘obtrusive’.

An application to build the 150-bedroom Hilton Doubletree hotel with a 450-capacity conference centre on the Noke roundabout in Chiswell Green had already been approved by the district council.

However St Albans-based developer, 51 Pegasus, submitted amendments to their original scheme to reduce the width and depth while increasing the height of the hotel.

Including the basement and lower ground floors, it has increased in height from 13.8m to 16.9m.

The revisions also included a proposal to use composite timber cladding in place of reflective glass on the exterior.

Nicola Bond, 51 Pegasus managing director, told Monday night’s planning referral committee meeting that although the altered version would provide exactly the same facilities at the site as the previous approved one, the new proposal had several advantages.

These included reducing the footprint by 25 per cent, making the building more sustainable and retaining more mature trees within the site.

Officers had recommended the scheme be refused, describing parts of the roof as having ‘incoherent flat elements’ and that the standard of design was inappropriate for the location.

But Cllr Michael Weaver backed the new proposal, saying: “This site is in a unique position where the M1 and the M25 cross; we should capitalise on this and a landmark hotel on the entrance to St Albans does just that.

“Quite honestly, we are missing out here at the moment. This is a massive step in the right direction and enhances the whole area.”

Councillors voted in favour of the proposal with a majority of eight to one and that cross-party approval, according to Mrs Bond, demonstrated that the design improvements had been appreciated.

After the meeting she said: “After we got the first consent signed off in late 2013 we started a complete design review. We could see that there was opportunity to make improvements.”

She said the hotel would be, “an asset to the city and a support to the local economy by bringing visitors and business to St Albans in the years to come.”

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