School’s concerns over plans to create neighbouring hotel in Grantham

Artistic impression of how the hotel would look, courtesy of BSA Designs.
Artistic impression of how the hotel would look, courtesy of BSA Designs.
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Plans to turn a former children’s home on Huntingtower Road into a hotel are due to go before South Kesteven District Council’s development control committee on Tuesday.

The application is for full planning permission to convert The Willows into a hotel, comprising 20 letting bedroom suites, as well as to construct a free-standing two-storey building to the rear. This additional building would house the hotel manager’s office and nine residential apartments.

The vacant former children's home The Willows on Huntingtower Road.

The vacant former children's home The Willows on Huntingtower Road.

However, the development’s location next to Huntingtower Community Primary Academy has led to some concerns being raised by staff, governors and parents.

Headteacher Mark Anderson told the Journal: “We want that area to be developed, but we just want some assurances. We have never met the people who have put in this application. We are not digging our heels in, as we do want to see it developed.

“As a community school we represent the views of our community, and so we are putting forward the thoughts of not just the school but of those parents who have approached us,” he added.

In their representations to SKDC, they state: “The proposed new development and the first floor windows of the existing building would overlook school accommodation, including classrooms used for changing for PE, the playground and the playing field.

“Such overlooking would raise safeguarding issues in relation to the welfare of pupils at the school.”

The Academy also cites increased traffic and pedestrian safety, lack of parking, and impact on their roof solar panels as issues.

They add: “Having regard to the unusual layout of hotel rooms (e.g. with some bedrooms accessedthrough other bedrooms) and the facilities proposed to be provided in the hotel (overly generous kitchen facilities) and the fact that some units have two bedrooms there are grave concerns as to the clientele the proposed use is being aimed at.”

In response, the developers said: “Whilst it is possible to appreciate the nature of the concern, it is essentially a hypothetical concern about the possible behaviour of occupiers rather than the actual building uses.

“There is nothing to suggest that the building uses themselves are unacceptable; indeed, there are already residential properties overlooking the school site in any event.

“The concerns are speculative in nature and are not, in our view, proper planning considerations in this case.”

The applicants say the hotel would be primarily for business users requiring short-term accommodation from Monday to Friday, with rooms also including en-suites, small kitchenettes, and in two, a small living space.

There would be no hotel lounge, bar or restaurant, and it would function ‘in a similar manner to a motel’. They emphasize it would not be used for intermediate housing or hostel-type accommodation.

There will be 30 parking spaces with access via a new driveway off Huntingtower Road.

SKDC’s planning officers have recommended the application be approved subject to conditions, with the decision to be made on Tuesday.