£3.5million three-star Welwyn Garden City hotel backed by planners

PUBLISHED: 08:30 13 August 2013 | UPDATED: 08:30 13 August 2013

Stonehills House, WGC, where plans for a 74-bedroom budget hotel have been lodged

Stonehills House, WGC, where plans for a 74-bedroom budget hotel have been lodged

Archant

A NEW £3.5million budget hotel in the heart of WGC would bring wide benefits and should be approved, an official report has ruled.

Politicians are set to meet tomorrow (Thursday) to decide on the bid, which would see empty offices in Stonehills converted into a three-star 74-bedroom venue.

Developers behind the project say no operator for the budget hotel has yet been confirmed.

But, as reported in the Welwyn Hatfield Times last week, the managers of three rival lodgings in the borough have warned that approving it could force other businesses into bankruptcy.

The new venue, on the upper floors above the parade of shops, would not have its own parking spaces, with guests having to rely on already existing carparks or using public transport.

It has previously been backed by the WGC Society and borough council leader councillor John Dean.

A report by planning officer Richard Aston, circulated ahead of the meeting, stated: “In terms of wider benefits, the proposal would maintain the external fabric of the building, bring back into use a redundant office building, create new employment in the area and ensure a viable and sustainable use is made of the building.

“Subject to conditions, the proposal would not have an adverse impact on the character of the area, the amenity of future occupiers or the wider amenity of the area.”

Councillors will be asked if they agree with that assessment.

The recommendation comes after a letter, circulated by bosses at Best Western’s Homestead Court Hotel and signed by the general managers at the Beales Hotel in Hatfield and the Mercure Hatfield Oak, warned all hotels in the borugh were struggling, and the new addition would “dilute” trade still further.

The report said developers would need to submit a transport plan before the hotel could open, but said a lack of parking spaces would not mean the bid should be refused.

It stated: “It is not unusual for hotels in town centres, particular those to be marketed as budget hotels, to not provide any dedicated parking for guests and it is common that guests pay for parking within other available facilities.

“The council has held discussions with the applicant in respect of offering to negotiate improved rates for parking for overnight stays.

“However the applicant has confirmed that they do not consider the rates to be particularly prohibitive.”


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