Developers budget hotel plans knocked back

DEVELOPERS seeking to transform a derelict pub into a 70-room budget hotel have expressed their disappointment after the scheme was blocked by councillors.

The owners of the former Horse and Groom pub, the Findlay Duthie partnership, want to demolish the building, on the A505 outside Royston, and turn the site into an Ibis hotel.

But on Wednesday of last week their planning application was rejected by South Cambridgeshire District Council’s planning committee.

The scheme has the backing of Steeple Morden and Litlington parish councils, as well as Royston Town Council and a number of existing local businesses.

Andy Thompson, director of Beacon Planning, which has been acting as planning consultants on the application, said: “Local support was vital in helping us to make what we believed was a strong planning case for the hotel.

“We wouldn’t have taken our client’s plans this far had we not be convinced of the robustness of the planning case. As it stands, the refusal of the planning application will see the site remain undeveloped and dilapidated.”

Mr Thompson added that Beacon and the Findlay Duthie partnership would consider their options before deciding whether to appeal or submit an amended application.

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Cllr Nick Wright, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for planning and economic development, said: “We fully support the site being brought back into use as it will revitalise the area and create new jobs. There is already planning permission for a new building twice the size of the former pub on the site, but the proposals put forward to committee were for a much bigger low budget hotel that was simply too large.

“We have no objection to a hotel being built there, but plans should be in keeping with the location.”

The Horse and Groom has stood empty for the last 10 years, and earlier this year travellers moved onto the site, though they left a few weeks later.

Royston Town Council gave its backing to the scheme in May, with Cllr F John Smith declaring the hotel would “be a benefit to the town and Hertfordshire as a whole”.

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