Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance).
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) setting out the planning application for the change of use from offices (B1) to hotel (C1) and erection of single storey extension.
The application site comprised a vacant building and associated car park and gardens which had last been used for office purposes. The imposing building was located in a prominent position in the town centre and faced onto Parkway and originally had been built as a house with a large garden. The site had been vacant for some time and was presently enclosed with security fencing with windows secured against break-in.
Further north were a further four large houses, each different but clearly designed as a group and set on spacious plots with large rear gardens. All were now in commercial use, with parking in the back gardens and most have had sizeable rear extensions which considerably altered their appearance at the rear, although from the front as viewed across Parkway the integrity of the original group remained largely intact.
To the south of the site was a formal area of open space which comprised the Reiss Memorial Garden. The rear (west) boundary of the site adjoined the gardens of Asquith House, a complex of flats for older people located on Guessens Road, and opposite was the open gardens and boulevard of Parkway.
The original plot measured approximately 45m deep with the original house sited in the front quarter of the plot. Subsequent extensions at ground and first floor had reduced the original garden depth such that at present the building extended to within approximately 25m of the rear boundary and the first floor extension extended to within 27m of the rear boundary. The application proposal would see the ground floor extended to within 11.5m of the rear boundary, over two thirds of the original plot depth and across almost the entire width of the building.
The application had been presented to the Development Management Committee because Councillor M.Cowan had called-in the application “due to the massive public reaction to it, and secondly as it would conflict with expected use as in various iterations of local plans”.
Mr Pyper, the agent representing the applicant, spoke in favour of the application.
Mr Davis, objector, on behalf of the Welwyn Garden City Society, spoke against the application, stating the proposed development went against the ethos of the original Garden City and that the site was inappropriate for the use for a hotel.
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council M.Cowan, reiterated his reasons for calling-in the application.
Ward Councillor F.Thomson spoke against the application. The proposed changes to the size and scale of the building would have a detrimental impact on the amenity of the neighbouring properties and would result in an overdevelopment of the site in a heritage and conservation area.
It was then proposed by Councillor S.Markiewicz, seconded by Councillor T.Lyons and
That planning permission be REFUSED for the reasons set out in the report of Officers.