St Albans Premier Inn bid returns for third attempt

A BUDGET hotel chain is hoping it will be third time lucky with its latest plan to build in St Albans city centre.

Premier Inn has submitted a new proposal for a 123-bedroom hotel in St Peter’s Street which, following discussions with St Albans council planning officers, is of a lower height than the previous application and with a more contemporary frontage.

Last October it looked as though the original 125-bedroom application for the site at the top end of St Peter’s Street close to Adelaide Street would be approved subject to further negotiations.

But a month later it was turned down by the council’s planning referrals committee over size and design issues.

Whitbreads, the owner of Premier Inn, was urged to reapply and the company’s latest application has now been registered by the council.

The reduction in the height of the proposed new hotel has been achieved by removing the gym from the original plan but the size of the hotel itself is almost unchanged.

The ground-floor shops in St Peter’s Street have been retained and half of them are already under offer.

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James Tibbles, director of Larraby Land who is leading the development, said: “Since the November committee meeting, we have been working hard to produce a design that is both commercially viable and reflects the feedback of the council’s planning officers.

“Difficult decisions have had to be made though our amended design addresses all of the previous concerns. The feedback we have received so far has been extremely positive.”

The council has made no secret of its concern at the lack of a budget hotel in St Albans and the Premier Inn application last November was only narrowly voted down.

Richard Pearson, acquisition manger for Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants, described St Albans as one of the UK’s top tourist attractions but the city suffered from a shortage of quality hotel accommodation which had a knock-on effect on trade for local businesses.

He added: “The increase in spending from our guests and the new jobs the hotel will create will be a shot in the arm for the St Albans economy and I hope to get the permission we need to invest in the city later this summer.”