A saga which has lasted for over year has ended with a Planning Inspector granting planning permission for the small hotel to change to a dwelling. The original application was submitted in August last year when the Local Plan only protected against the loss of hotels in certain key areas. The hotel in question lay outside these areas however midway through the application the Inspector’s report came through on the Core Strategy which was then adopted. The Core Strategy (check out our Briefing Note) now extends the policy to the whole borough and hence it then applied to the application. Undaunted Pure Town Planning went about producing a report seeking to demonstrate that the hotel was no longer viable and had no future prospects having been marketed for a considerable period of time without success and presenting the accounts for recent years.
The Council’s tourism department decided that the hotel had been marketed at too high a price and considered that the hotel was viable despite it not paying the operator/owners the minimum wage for the last five years. The planning department on this basis intended to refuse the application. Pure Town Planning obtained political support to get the application in front of the planning committee. The applicants were unlucky to marginally miss out on the committee overturning the recommendation.
On appeal however the Inspector was persuaded that the marketing of the property was at a reasonable price. He further found that despite achieving typical occupancy levels and being advertised appropriately, the hotel did not pay the operators at a level equivalent to the minimum wage for the hours they worked – something he considered was a reasonable expectation for a viable business. The Inspector was therefore able to conclude that “on balance, the appellants have succeeded in demonstrating that the guest house business at this property is no longer viable and that it has no reasonable prospect of continuing.”
This is potentially a useful decision for any small hoteliers considering making that change of use application. If you need advice on achieving a change of use from a hotel to another use, whether in Bournemouth, Poole or any of the other authorities which have restrictive policies, give Pure Town Planning a call.