St Albans hotel to be knocked down and replaced with homes for elderly

Quality Hotel on London Road

Quality Hotel on London Road - Credit: Archant

A St Albans hotel can now be demolished to make way for assisted living accommodation for frail, elderly people, after a U-turn on a rejected scheme.

But, approval for 47 extra care flats in a private establishment for the over-70s has raised fears that as they will be built very close to the site of a proposed private care home, the pair will create a “ghetto for the elderly”.

In June, St Albans district council turned down a planning application to knock down buildings at the Quality Hotel site in London Road.

Permission had been sought for construction of a new part-three story, part four-storey building, to provide 21 one-bedroom and 26 two-bedroom flats, along with communal facilities including a residents’ lounge, restaurant, function room and a guest suite.

The council rejected the plan as a “visually obtrusive form of development”, excessive and “overly dominant”.

But last Wednesday (18) planning inspector Gareth Jones said that, “notwithstanding the loss of the hotel, including the contribution it makes to the local economy” the development would not harm the character and appearance of the surrounding area.

The appeal was made by Yourlife Management Services, which had proposed a series of changes to its scheme since the plans were rejected.

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The revisions replace the proposed frontage road with landscaping, and cut the number of proposed car parking spaces by two, to a total of 38. Also, the height of the four-storey part of the building would be reduced by 1.2 metres.

Gareth said; “Overall, the proposed development would not harm the character and appearance of the surrounding area.”

Cllr Robert Donald said while he was not surprised the scheme’s rejection had been overturned, “I am concerned about the loss of a hotel, as we need more beds for tourists and visitors.”

However, he pointed out that an appeal decision is still pending for a scheme from Signature Senior Lifestyle, to demolish properties between 270 and 274 London Road – close to Quality Hotel, which is located at 232 London Road.

Signature wants to build a private residential care home for 81 people, a plan which has attracted objections from nearby residents.

Cllr Donald said: “We don’t want London Road becoming just an area where we put elderly people in care homes – we are creating a ghetto for the elderly. The planning inspector’s approval of building at the Quality Hotel site has implications for Signature’s plans.

“If approved, it means we could have many private beds available, but we need more socially-funded care beds. This is why we should carry on opposing the Signature application.