Constable Country hotel plans unveiled

PLANS for a large hotel to be built close to an area of protected Essex countryside have been put forward - but questions have been raised about their suitability.

Elliot Furniss

PLANS for a large hotel to be built close to an area of protected Essex countryside have been put forward - but questions have been raised about their suitability.

The proposed Holiday Inn Express hotel would be constructed on land at Birchwood Road near the Dedham Vale, which has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The land, located just off the A12, already has planning permission for a hotel and the new plans for a 99-bedroom complex have been submitted to Colchester Borough Council by Geminox Hotel and Leisure Management, which develops and manages sites across the UK.

Jas Dhooper, managing director of Geminox, said the application was only an amendment to the permission already granted for the site and company research showed a good demand for hotel rooms in the area.

He said: “We had feasibility reports and have done our own internal research and there is a big demand there. We're planning a 99-bderoom hotel. We have adapted it so it is brand standard and it is going to be smaller then the existing plans.”

Most Read

However, Tony Clover, chairman of the Dedham Vale AONB, said the hotel would be in the wrong place and would not fit the needs of tourists visiting the picturesque area, immortalised in the works of artist John Constable.

Mr Clover, also a county councillor representing the Constable ward, said: “It would be on the edge of the AONB. They're hotel people and they have done their research, but all sorts of pie in the sky things come forward.

“What Colchester Borough Council and Essex County Council have previously agreed on in principal is an understanding that no large developments would take place between north of the A12 and the beginning of the AONB.”

He said the building of a new hotel would not necessarily bring in any new tourists and questioned who would constitute the site's clientele.

He added: “Who's going to fill the bedrooms? There's not going to be young people or families - they can't afford it.

“I think it's totally in the wrong place. If it was in the centre of Colchester, then it would be different.

“Dedham doesn't need a 100-bedroom hotel to keep its shops open - people come for walks and don't come for what the hotel would be set up for.”

Consultation on the application expires on April 12 and a decision on the plans will be made by the borough council's planning committee at a later date.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter