Oulton Broad hotel expansion plans hit strong opposition

NEW plans have been unveiled to extend a landmark hotel to 'bring it back to its former glory'.

The owners of the Wherry Hotel, in Oulton Broad, have submitted proposals to extend the building in Bridge Road by refurbishing its restaurant, bar areas and function room and adding 13 new bedrooms.

But the plans have prompted strong objections from the Broads Society, which says the designs are 'lacking in imagination' and will have a detrimental effect on the 'iconic' waterfront building.

Anglia Restaurants Ltd has lodged the application with the Broads Authority for permission to build a single-storey extension to the rear and side of the hotel, and create a new first- and second-floor bedroom block over an existing function room (the Brown Boat Suite), as well as refurbishing public areas.

Its agents, Jonathan Hall Associates, say the plans will create 13 new bedrooms, an indoor play area and party room for children and parents. An outdoor play area and patio space are also planned.

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The latest proposals contain revised plans for the hotel after concerns were raised by neighbours over an original application just before Christmas, along with concerns over the need for a flood risk assessment.

'We have made very effort to accommodate the neighbours' requests regarding the design and layout and improved vehicle access,' the application states. 'The overall footprint of the building is only marginally increased with single storey buildings that are subservient to the grand three storey structure.'

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It adds: 'The new extensions are of a size not to dominate leaving the principle structure (the original hotel building) to be visible from all elevations and remain in its original prominence... This original three-storey hotel buiiding will remain unaltered and only renovated to bring it back to its former glory.'

The application goes on to say that parking facilities at The Wherry will remain 'largely unaltered', although 'a series of larger car park spaces' will be created close to the entrances.

However, the fact that there will be a 'doubling in size of the premises' with 'no increase in car parking' has prompted an objection from the Broads Society, which claims that the existing car park is 'often inadequate'.

In its letter of objection to the Broads Authority, the society says: 'This application is of huge relevance to Oulton Broad – such is the importance of this site we wonder whether it should be the subject of a public consultation.

'The Wherry Hotel is an iconic Broadland pub, a grand architectural statement, typical of the era in which it was built. We feel that it should be formally recognised as such and protected against any development which would have an adverse impact on its appearance.

'The design of the proposed extension takes no account of the facts, being completely incongruous and totally lacking in imagination. An extension to the Wherry Hotel should be of high quality and should both complement and enhance its character – the proposal meets neither of these criteria,' it adds.

'The present proposal shows a distinct lack of vision, is out of sympathy with the location and needs to be rethought and an alternative design of high qulity submitted in its place.'

Neighbours have also objected to the revised plans, citing traffic problems, car parking issues and drainage problems, while ecologists have recommended that a bat survey be carried out.

The plans are likely to be discussed at a meeting of the authority's planning committee in the next few weeks.

l Concerns over former boatyard site – Postbox, pages 20 and 21.

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