Anger after hotel plan turned down

A BUSINESSMAN has hit out at South Cambridgeshire District Council planning officers after they blocked his plans for a new hotel near Royston. Stuart Findlay owns the dilapidated Horse and Groom pub near the A505 between Royston and Baldock, which he

A BUSINESSMAN has hit out at South Cambridgeshire District Council planning officers after they blocked his plans for a new hotel near Royston.

Stuart Findlay owns the dilapidated Horse and Groom pub near the A505 between Royston and Baldock, which he wants to redevelop into a budget hotel.

But despite gaining support from Royston Town Council, Hertfordshire County Council highways department, parish councils, and local residents, district council officers have refused to grant him planning permission.

Mr Findlay said: "We have bent over backwards to try and co-operate with the planners and find a formula to build a small budget hotel that they would support in place of the derelict pub now on the site.


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"But as soon as we satisfy one critical point they seem to come up with another."

The initial plan was to build an 80-bedroom hotel on the site. After this was rejected he scaled down the project to a 26-bedroom scheme, but this was turned down as well.

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A spokesman for South Cambridgeshire District Council said the planning application had been rejected for three reasons.

She explained: "The application fails to address the requirements of Planning Policy 6, which identifies hotels as 'main town centre uses'.

"Secondly, the application site is in the open countryside. The application fails to demonstrate an essential need for the development in this rural location.

"Finally, the proposal is not sustainable as it fails to minimise the need to travel by private car - walking and cycling are unrealistic options."

However, Mr Findlay said: "They appear to be grasping at straws knowing that our town and the ever-busier A505 need something like this.

"They have told me that hotel developments need to be in the town, but all this would do in Royston is increase traffic congestion.

"The planning permission for the hotel that was going to be built on the Little Chef site near Royston has expired, leaving us very short of hotels in this area."

Mr Findlay added that he had received letters of support from many local residents, together with locals MPs Andrew Lansley and Oliver Heald.

Royston Town Council voiced its approval when the scheme first came to light in October 2006, with members of the planning committee agreeing that a development of this kind was "desperately needed". Cllr Robert Smith described the current building as "a blot on the landscape".

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