Hotel and golf club's holiday lodges plans to face decision

David Harris, of M&D Developments, at All Saints Hotel Golf and Spa at Fornham St Genevieve, near Bury St Edmunds

David Harris, of M&D Developments, at All Saints Hotel Golf and Spa at Fornham St Genevieve, near Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Archant

Controversial plans for holiday lodges at a leisure complex that has undergone millions of pounds of investment will go before decisionmakers next week.

The owner of All Saints Hotel Golf and Spa, at Fornham St Genevieve, just outside Bury St Edmunds, wants to build lodges - technically caravans - on part of the golf course to help secure its future.

David Harris, of M&D Developments, which owns All Saints, said they are looking to invest £10million in the leisure complex - in a range of additions including the lodges - and want to make it a "destination resort".

A previous planning application for up to 35 holiday caravans was refused in 2020 and a subsequent appeal dismissed, but this scaled-back proposal is for 15 timber clad lodges.

A site plan showing the proposed holiday lodges in the south-west corner

A site plan showing the proposed holiday lodges in the south-west corner - Credit: Guarda Landscape

A planning officers' report, which is going before West Suffolk Council's planning committee on Wednesday, recommends approval, saying the current scheme is "materially different".

Those to object include Fornham St Martin Cum St Genevieve Parish Council, Bury St Edmunds Town Council and the ward councillors.

Of third-party representations, this application has received 125 objections and 126 in support, the report said.

There have been a range of concerns, including the urbanisation of an edge-of-countryside location, coalescence with the town and that it would spoil neighbours' views.

Most Read

Mr Harris said they had worked with planning officers and consultees over a long period of time to try and address committee members' concerns.

He said: "They are very different schemes. We have tried to keep away from our neighbours - we cannot put them [lodges] any further away - but unfortunately we have still been met with opposition. I cannot understand why."

He added: "We are investing heavily because we believe in the brand and we believe it's something different for Bury."

A view showing the proposed site

A view showing the proposed site - Credit: Guarda Landscape

Mr Harris said there was a need for self-catering accommodation, adding the development would be "good" for the town, as well as his business.

An application summary said it has been estimated the lodges would result in £1,472,976 of additional spending within the local area and hotel.

The 42-bedroom All Saints Hotel is located on the edge of its 150-acre golf course and has undergone £6million worth of improvements since it was purchased by the current owner in 2015.

But despite the improvements, a design and access statement with the application said it had not been possible to make the golf course itself financially viable.

In the distance is the site for the tennis courts, pickleball court and golf range

In the distance is the site for the tennis courts, pickleball court and golf range - Credit: Archant

A separate planning statement said golf as a sport was struggling and added: "There is surplus land on the course which can be used to provide these lodges which will be an alternative form of accommodation, one which is popular with golfers' spa breaks, which would help secure the future of this recreational facility."

The area of the site proposed for the lodges is in the very south-western corner of the golf course along the boundary with the Lark Valley Trading Park and the A1101 Mildenhall Road.

Changes to the scheme include visitors no longer parking at the lodge site - with guest parking instead at the main hotel - and the application proposes to retain all the existing good quality trees and plant a further 91 native trees and 1.3 acres of hedges and shrubs.

All Saints Hotel, pictured in 2018

All Saints Hotel, pictured in 2018 - Credit: All Saints Hotel

The planning officers' report added: "The lodges are set well away from the road and mostly behind the existing retained trees and vegetation. In addition to the existing retained vegetation, the proposed soft landscaping scheme would still enhance the screening and setting of the proposed development."

It said the application would retain the long, open views across the golf course from Mildenhall Road and avoid development in the foreground.

"The visual gap between the settlements would therefore not be closed," it said.

Ward councillors Rebecca Hopfensperger and Sarah Broughton said: "We feel that the proposed amendments do not alter the fact that the matter of urbanisation and coalescence would still not be addressed."

See the full planning officers' report here