Emerging employment land policy helps block hotel

Concerns over loss of employment land and harm to local appearance and character have led to refusal of plans for a 113-bedroom hotel in a Kent seaside town.

The scheme was proposed on allocated employment land in a mixed-use commercial area. The site was intended for a mixed-use development including office floorspace, a hotel, non-food retail and catering uses. Indeed, permission had already been granted for a smaller hotel on part of the site. The appeal proposal effectively meant that no office floorspace could be provided on the land.

The inspector accepted that the council’s adopted local plan policy for the site was out of date, as it required office or storage floorspace development only, and therefore afforded it limited weight. However, he noted that the adopted plan did allow for mixed uses in certain circumstances, an approach reinforced in the mixed uses envisaged in the council’s emerging local plan.

Since the emerging plan had been through examination and the council did not anticipate making any further changes to the policy, he afforded it substantial weight in the overall planning balance. However, he noted that the appellant had submitted no evidence to show that office floorspace would not be viable at the site, nor any evidence of an unmet need for another hotel in this location.

The inspector concluded that the proposed development would undermine the supply and delivery of floorspace for employment and other uses in a manner that would conflict with both the existing and emerging plans. While accepting that neither plan could be afforded full weight, since paragraphs 20 and 80 of the NPPF require strategic policies to make sufficient provision for employment development and to support economic growth, he afforded significant weight to the harm that would result in this regard.

He also identified harm to the area’s appearance and character in relation to the two most prominent elevations of the building, finding that they would generate almost no activity and minimal visual interest. He concluded that the proposal would not represent the good design or create the high-quality buildings and places fundamental to what planning and development should achieve. 

Inspector: Ian Harrison; Written representations

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