Now Christmas and New Year are past, some more comments are being made about the planning application to turn St Peter’s School into a boutique hotel with eight new homes behind it.
Most of those commenting applaud the development of the boutique hotel – and wish it well. But there are strongly worded concerns that the site is being overdeveloped by the inclusion of the housing and, above all, by the lack of sufficient parking for hotel staff, hotel residents, visitors to the restaurants and bars, restaurant and bar staff – and also homeowners.
Two of those commenting have noted that a new ‘hotel drop off point’ and the new access off The Par ade into the rear of the school building (exiting opposite the parking triangle on the plan above) will deprive The Parade of up to seven parking spaces.
There is apparently no space in the plans to compensate for this loss of public amenity. It should be noted that as parking is free and time-restricted in The Parade, this would involve no loss of income to Wiltshire Council.
Both Martin Thomas (of Barrow Close) and Val Compton (who lives round the corner from The Parade) make the point that the developers seriously underestimate the current use of The Parade and point to the increased motor and pedestrian traffic in the area once the Parade Cinema is open.
Val Compton: “The description [in the planning application] of activity in The Parade is wholly inadequate. ‘Independent retailers and offices’ suggests 9-5 working, this is not the case. The Parade has two pubs with regular evening entertainment, three restaurants, (two with bars), three takeaway premises, one cinema/bar/cafe opening 2020, two Funeral Directors requiring clear access, local residents who are requiring on street parking, a Friends (Quaker) meeting room in regular use, close proximity to the Town Hall where regular evening meetings and events take place and a Fire Brigade requiring clear access 24/7.”
“I would also point out there is no Residents’ Parking Scheme in this area, so it is an open (and sometimes ugly) battle for spaces in the Parade and the surrounding roads. Takeaway customers frequently double-park in the road as no parking is available, vehicles also frequently create extra spaces on the points of the central triangle of parking, causing problems of access.”
Mrs Compton quotes the developers as forecasting that ’employees and visitors to the development that live within the town will be able to access this easily on foot or by bicycle’. She comments that the surrounding roads with few crossing points are not at all pedestrian friendly.
She also quotes the developers’ statement that staff will be ‘expected to travel by sustainable modes’. This, she says with great restraint, ‘may prove totally unrealistic in this rural area with no late night buses…’
Mrs Compton sums up: “It is my opinion that this proposed hotel/bar/restaurant development, which will hopefully be both popular and successful, should first prove it can accommodate all the extra vehicles it will generate with adequate parking, before it is given planning permission. This may mean loss of some residential buildings and slight re-design.”
“I would then feel able to fully support the development. Customers of a restaurant or bar that is of a high standard, will not expect to first drive around Marlborough looking for a parking place and I strongly feel that any lack of easy parking could prove to be really detrimental to the project.”
Mr Thomas makes the cogent point that as the developers are relying on the new homes’ 6.0m x 3.0m garages to help meet parking requirements, it should be a planning condition that these garages cannot be turned into extra rooms.
There is also a comment from the owners of the nearby Old Ropeworks who are worried about the effects of any percussive pile driving on their buildings – several of which are Grade II listed, ‘of a fragile nature’ and have shallow foundations.
They also have concerns about the height of the new buildings and their own property being overlooked. They do, however, welcome the development: “Ultimately it will add to the attractiveness of the town as a destination for people and business.”
On that note, David Chandler of Alma Place comments: “I welcome this application. It provides an hotel which will give employment in the town. It will be good to have the original building of Marlborough Grammar School preserved. It is also a relief to have an application that is NOT a development for senior citizen housing.”