Massive development could overlook former Harpenden hotel site

Harpenden House Hotel inital designs

Harpenden House Hotel inital designs - Credit: Archant

Fears have been raised for the future of the former Harpenden House Hotel site after initial plans for the development were revealed to be totally out of scale with buildings in the area.

Fairview Homes held a three day consultation revealing potential plans for the listed building last week, which will be turned into around 30 “new high quality homes”.

But Barry Watson, who lives in Arden Grove just behind the proposed development, arranged a private viewing with the developers at his home along with a handful of other residents who will be directly affected.

He said: “The latest proposal is to build some 32 residential units and 71 parking spaces.

“The listed building would be divided into five roomy apartments; there would be five detached houses, a two storey block of eight flats and a four storey block of 14 flats on the highest point of the site.”

If built, he said, one of the homes would measure about 43m by 17m with a massive pitched roof, the top of which would be at least 8m above the roof of the original hotel building.

Barry, who has lived in Arden Grove for 38 years, went on: “The plan for the development is totally out of scale with anything else in the area.”

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Speaking about the meeting he said: “It was all fairly friendly.

“I think to be fair they were surprised – they had never seen the site from our garden before and imagined the size of the building.

“When the hotel itself applied for a three-storey extension it was refused two or three times, on the basis that the height of the extension must not exceed the listed building and they ended up building the two wings.”

But he added: “I’m happy to see any development provided it’s not visible above the common or above the houses in Arden Grove.”

“Of course I personally believe that Harpenden needs a hotel, and it’s a perfectly suitable site for a hotel if this company should not get change of use.

“You might expect that a hotel wouldn’t be good neighbours, with the cooking smells and weddings, but in fact they’ve been a wonderful neighbour.”

Hilary Taylor, co-founder of the Save the Harpenden House Hotel group, said the development just looked wrong and that the town definitely still needed a hotel.

She added: “I just can’t accept that Fairview Homes must have thought ‘well Harpenden has had two hotels which have been closed so they clearly don’t need a hotel.”

The campaigner said that the proposed homes would not suit the needs of local people and more than likely would be sold to outside commuters.

A statement on Fairview Homes website said they were still at the pre-application stage and no planning application had been submitted.

They plan to submit a detailed planning application in late summer following “extensive consultation with all interested parties”.

Residents can make a comment on the proposed new development at