Hotel next to main road ruled unsustainable

The redevelopment of a public house in rural Cambridgeshire with a budget hotel was turned down, an inspector finding that it would be contrary to sustainability objectives.

The pub, which lay adjacent to a dual carriageway in open countryside, had been closed since 2005. The council agreed that the site was an eyesore and needed to be redeveloped, and cited a planning permission to redevelop the site for a restaurant as confirmation of its support for the improvement of the site. A transport assessment and travel plan claimed that the proposed 70-bedroom hotel would principally cater for passing motorists.

The inspector considered, however, that it was more likely that most guests would pre-book and arrange their journeys accordingly. He reasoned that a restaurant would be more likely than an hotel to rely on passing motorists for trade. He considered that few hotel staff would be likely to arrive or leave on foot or by bicycle, being three kilometres from the nearest edge of the town along a busy main road of fast-moving traffic, and was convinced that few guests would arrive other than by car.

The inspector recognised that jobs would be created but judged that there could be some harmful effect on more centrally located businesses, albeit that the overall economic impact would be likely to be positive and this would be a social benefit. However, the site was in an isolated location away from villages and towns, it could only operate with a substantial level of reliance on use of the private car, and there would be a large new building in the countryside.

Inspector Kenneth Smith; Hearing

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