London Colney budget hotel scheme set to get go-ahead

AN 86-ROOM budget hotel could soon be on the doorstep of London Colney if plans to sell off land behind Colney Fields retail park go ahead next week.

Outline planning permission for a hotel behind Sainsbury’s petrol station has already been granted and bids for the site are being considered.

Amid hopes that the hotel will bring jobs into the village, London Colney Cllr Jacob Quagliozzi is appealing to the developers to proactively consult with the local community.

He said: “It’s very early days and obviously, I’m attracted by the prospect of something that potentially brings jobs to the village.

“But I’m not going to pre-determine my view on any development on that site.”

The Labour councillor said he and his colleagues on the parish and district council would be looking closely at the implications for traffic movements, access and the effect on the Bell roundabout as well as what potential benefits it would bring to the village.

He added: “As always, I’ll be speaking to residents to see what they think.

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“If a buyer does emerge over the coming weeks and months, I appeal to them to take a constructive approach to consulting with the community, not the old approach which is to consult as little as possible.”

Planning permission for the hotel, subsequent parking and a restaurant was granted by Hertsmere Borough Council as the site is in Shenley. But because approximately one third is also in the district of St Albans, councillors here have followed the process closely.

County councillor for the Colneys Chris Brazier said he was initially disappointed when he saw that Hertsmere had granted planning permission on a green belt site.

He said: “I was also, quite frankly, amazed when they allowed the McDonald’s to be built on that roundabout with an exit onto the M25 exit ramp. It’s a major health and safety issue.

“But it’s been decided now and we must look at what it can bring to the area.

“There’s the opportunity for economic development in the area, local employment and a source of income for London Colney in this period of recession.”

He said it was a chance to work with the developers to make sure the hotel benefited local people.

The prospect of a hotel at the Colney Fields retail park first arose in 2004 when a planning application was lodged but Hertsmere Council rejected it twice. Both times it was overturned at appeal.

In 2010 it was granted but with several conditions relating to its appearance and concerns about traffic flow in and around the Bell roundabout and retail area.

St Albans district council and Herts County council voiced no objections at the time and of the 62 neighbouring properties contacted for feedback, only one replied and objected to the proposals.

The company behind the 2010 application later withdrew their interest to focus on other projects, but the planning application for the site remains.

A spokesperson from CBRE, the estate agents behind the land, said they had been inundated by offers from companies looking to make the most of the site’s location and travel access.

He added: “It’s an attractive prospect because it comes with planning permission, but that’s not to say that the new buyers won’t terminate that and restart the planning process.”