Bury St Edmunds: Permission given for hotel use at New Shire Hall

A PROPOSAL for former council offices in Bury St Edmunds to be used as a hotel has been given the go-ahead despite objections from a number of residents.

Yesterday, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s Development Control Committee approved the plans for part of New Shire Hall in Raingate Street by 12 votes to three.

While not a proposal specific to a Travelodge, a design and access statement submitted with the planning application by current site owners M & D Developments said the budget hotel chain had prepared a scheme for the building which proposed 80 suites.

Concerns raised about the plans included the impact on the conservation area, increased traffic, disturbance to residents and the negative effect on existing hotels.

Nigel Jackson, owner of the Chantry Hotel in nearby Sparhawk Street, said at the meeting at West Suffolk House in Bury he did not think New Shire Hall was the right location for a Travelodge.

He said it was currently a quiet residential area with mostly elderly residents and if the application was approved “sadly” some of the existing town centre accommodation providers, such as the Chantry Hotel, would become unviable.

But a majority of councillors voted to approve the proposal. Councillor Helen Levack said she did not believe comments about a Travelodge were relevant to the application for change of use, which was recommended for approval by officers.

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Officers said hotel use was one that was identified as being appropriate for the building as part of the development brief for the site – vacated by Suffolk County Council in 2008 and sold – which was adopted by the borough council.

After the meeting, Mr Jackson, who has been running Chantry Hotel for 28 years, said he was disappointed.

He said: “But I was expecting the decision to go the way it did as I say I think the council had already made up its mind before they looked at any objections.

“There were quite a lot of objections in writing, but they weren’t really mentioned in the meeting.”

St Edmundsbury Borough Council planning officer Stephen Burgess said the town currently had a shortfall for a budget hotel and conference accommodation.

“It is felt the current proposal would meet that current shortfall,” he said.

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