Plans for a new 80-bedroom Premier Inn on the edge of the A38 are set to be refused.

The £5.2m scheme would also see a restaurant and a car park built on the Dolbeare Meadow Business Park in Ashburton.

Premier Inn said that the three-storey hotel would create around 30 new jobs, around 50,000 overnight stays would be accommodated by the hotel and it would have a £2m boost to the local economy.

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But the Dartmoor National Park Authority’s Development Management Committee, when it meets on Friday, are recommended to refuse the plans.

Premier Inn Ashburton CGI - Artist’s impressions Only - for illustrative purposes only

Premier Inn Ashburton CGI – Artist’s impressions Only – for illustrative purposes only

Officers making the recommendation say: “The proposal is not for a small scale hotel, in the context of the National Park and there is insufficient detail to demonstrate that there would be financial and economic benefit to the locality, which would not otherwise be gained by an employment use on this site.

“The design is not considered to be locally distinctive to reflect the character of the host settlement. It would have a detrimental impact upon the gateway into Ashburton, and the National Park. It is recommended that this proposal be refused.”

 

Premier Inn have said that can be flexible on the design and if the committee do not like the proposed design, they can switch to one which meets the case officer’s preference.

Premier Inn's alternative designs for their proposed hotel in Ashburton

Premier Inn’s alternative designs for their proposed hotel in Ashburton

Paul Smith, acquisition manager at Premier Inn, said: “We’re clear that investing £5.2 million into Ashburton and the National Park to build a new Premier Inn here can deliver a boost for the town, support efforts to grow sustainable tourism in the National Park, and create 30 new jobs.

 

“We’ve been working on the proposals for two years so it’s disappointing to think that the opportunity could be lost because of a difference of opinion on architectural design styles.

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“We have flexibility on the design and are willing to work constructively on a solution which does not jeopardise the whole investment opportunity because of an easily-resolved difference of opinion on how the building should look.”

Premier Inn's alternative designs for their proposed hotel in Ashburton

Premier Inn’s alternative designs for their proposed hotel in Ashburton

The proposals had proven controversial and split the town, with the application seeing 44 comments in favour of the development, 99 against it, and eight general neutral observations.

 

Objectors had said it would have a negative effect on current business accommodation in the town, it would be an eyesore, the design was poor, there is no demand for bed spaces, and it would be contrary to the ethos of the town.

Those supporting the plans had said it would attract more people to visit, there would be jobs created, it was beside the A38 to would not have a major impact on the town, it would improve the state of the site, and would provide healthy competition.

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Outlining the concern of planners, the report to the committee says: “The consideration of alternative sites outside the National Park, or the alternatives which have been deemed unsuitable have not been detailed, or justification as to why a site in the National Park should be acceptable.

“The proposed building is designed in an unsympathetic style which does not fit comfortably in this location. It uses neither local stone, nor sympathetic window design, the mass of the building has been slightly broken up by the recessed timber elements of random colour, however with the rendered sections standing proud, it gives them an even more prominent appearance.

Artist impression of what the new Premier Inn in Ashburton could look like

Artist impression of what the new Premier Inn in Ashburton could look like (Image: arch-e-tech Design LTD)

“Any new application would need to be reduced substantially in scale, bulk and 26 massing, to overcome the reasons for refusal of this application.

 

“There is no reference to the number of the local jobs which would be recruiting people currently working in the hospitality industry. There is also no reference to the potential number of jobs which would be created by an employment use on the site, and this in relation to those to be created by this proposal.”

The Authority’s Development Management Committee on Friday will decide on the fate of the application.

If approved, Premier Inn is hoping to start construction in 2020 with a targeted opening date of early to mid 2021.

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