Owners shocked by Welwyn Clock arson

THE owners of the Clock Hotel have spoken of their shock after the fire that ripped through their property was declared as arson.

Their plans to build a hotel and care home on site are still awaiting planning permission from Welwyn Hatfield Council.

Runwood Homes, which has over 30 care homes mainly in Hertfordshire and Essex, bought the site in May 2009 after Quality Hotel’s parent company went into administration.

It had originally applied for permission to build a 129-bed care home, but the company withdrew the plans.

Just last month the WHT reported two further applications had been submitted which would see 50-bedroom hotel built to the front of the site and a 58-bed care home on the larger back section of the site.

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These were both undergoing public consultation when the blaze took hold on Thursday.

The plans, which would see the old Clock complex – which is not listed – completely demolished, appeared to have the backing of people living nearby on the Danesbury estate.

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Speaking exclusively to the WHT after the fire Runwood Homes managing director Logan Logeswaran said it had left him shocked and surprised.

He said: “The facilities team have been down there and brought me photos back, we’re upset by it all.

“We don’t know the cause of it yet; it was such a surprise and so sudden.

“We regularly visit the site as we’ve had a problem with squatters; the previous week it was fine and the building was empty.”

Speaking of his firm’s planning application he added: “Runwood was willing to take the risk and invest in the site, we need to start making some money out of the place; we still have running costs associated with it.

“We don’t want to leave the site empty.

“The idea is to have a care home and a hotel, but we are still waiting to see if the planners agree.”

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