Redevelopment work underway at Harpenden House Hotel site

Harpenden House Hotel site

Harpenden House Hotel site - Credit: Archant

The site of the former Harpenden House Hotel is being transformed into the town’s latest housing development.

The Grade II-listed building on Southdown Road will be the centrepiece of a scheme involving 24 apartments and 13 houses.

Developer Fairview’s main board director, Jeremy Gee, said: “Our development, Welcombe House, will bring a mix of homes – both two and three-bedroom apartments and houses – to Harpenden.

“We’re conscious of the fact that the preservation of the hotel building is something which is close to the hearts of the people of Harpenden, and under our scheme, this listed building will be brought back into beneficial use.

“Our scheme is sympathetic to both the building and the character of the area.”

The conversion of the hotel building will create five apartments – a mix of two and three-bedroom homes - and will feature three professionally landscaped garden areas for communal use surrounding the listed building.

The first occupants are expected to move in from October 2018.

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The redevelopment was finally approved by St Albans district council in October 2016, on Fairview’s third attempt to get the plans through.

Objectors to the proposals were concerned at the change of use to residential, and lamented the loss of the town’s last hotel as being “to the detriment of the local and wider community”.

The scheme will contain no affordable housing, with the developer instead pledging £495,000 for the council to build suitable accommodation elsewhere, as well as a further £88,821 which will go towards funding local amenities including projects at Rothamsted Park, play areas and libraries.

Harpenden town and Herts county councillor David Williams responded to the lack of affordable housing: “It is very poor. It is a problem that has plagued Harpenden for many years now.

“The sort of development that has taken place has not resulted in many homes.”

He cited the development of the Lea industrial estate, which has over 20 affordable homes, as a model example of what is needed elsewhere.

“That is the sort of development we should have been securing, but developers will always be challenging the viability of their projects if there is too high a level of affordable housing.

“The real need is for our district council to argue the case.”