In August, Premier Inns held a public consultation on their redesign. It addressed the reasons for rejection of their first application (overlooking and disturbance to neighbours, and inadequate vehicle access via Bruce Road), and eliminated both hotel entrances on Chipping Close. But we still had a number of concerns, and wrote to them saying so.
Early this month, they responded with further assurances and design modifications:
- Additional visualisations of the proposal would be provided.
- The contractual and technical implications of 24-hour access to The Spires car park have apparently been thoroughly tested, and a draft legal agreement agreed.
- Licensing hours would be restricted to restaurant opening hours.
- Signage would conform to Conservation Area guidelines.
- The Chipping Close façade would be set a foot further away from the existing terrace opposite.
- Etched and fixed room glazing would safeguard neighbours’ privacy.
- For the Bruce Road cul-de-sac, tracking diagrams have been produced proving that vehicles could manoeuvre without risk to pedestrian and cyclist safety.
- Coach drop-off and pick-up (if ever required) would be in The Spires yard.
- The previous mediocre design of the Bruce Road hotel entrance has been improved (see visualisation below).
We remain concerned, about vehicles turning into and out of Bruce Road from/into St Albans Road, especially at peak times, particularly across traffic lanes.
We would also like to see more historically correct ‘shopfront’ details, adjustment of certain window proportions, no red brick on the south (Spires yard) façade, and a less busy array of planters on St Albans Road and Chipping Close.
Some aspects of the scheme, we were told, cannot be altered:
- The capacity of the hotel, for financial reasons.
- Guest access between the car park and hotel. We had suggested a route on the S-E (Spires yard) side of the hotel, and possibly a lift or bridge from the car park, but apparently these were impractical.
On balance we are minded to support the application. Premier Inns have gone further than most developers to design a building in keeping with the Conservation Area, and have taken our advice on several important matters.
We believe a hotel will bring benefits to the town centre economy – for example, it could offer apprenticeships in hospitality and catering to young people in the next-door house in multiple occupation (HMO).
Another bonus could be a financial contribution by Premier Inns, as a condition of planning approval, to upgrading the Stapylton Road pocket park (opposite The Spires bandstand).
This was subject of our web feature dated 27 May, Barnet Market & Premier Inn - An opportunity slipping away. Better facilities there for bus travellers, bus drivers and shopper set-down and pick-up should be provided, together with landscape treatment to discourage anti-social use by vagrants and drinkers – as well as space to expand the market, should demand arise.
You can view the plans and supporting documents and submit your own comments at https://publicaccess.barnet.gov.uk/online-applications/ (application reference no. 18/5395/FUL).
The deadline for comments is Friday 2nd October.