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COUNCIL ISSUES ADVICE ON HOTEL DEVELOPMENT
Earlier this year, owners of The Lismoyne Hotel submitted a pre-application to seek advice about the possibility of demolishing the Victorian building and replacing it with a retirement complex. The proposed new builds would consist of 52 apartments and would have a minimum entry age of 60.
Although The Lismoyne Hotel opened in 1932, the actual building was built in the 1880s as a private residence to Lord Lismoyne. It is situated in Church Road, opposite Lismoyne Close.
Below: The Lismoyne was converted into a hotel in 1932.
The Fleet Neighbourhood Plan describes the site as:
Built as substantial three-storey Victorian private house in 1880s, sold in 1927 and converted to hotel in 1932 and since extended. Possibly used as military hospital during WW1.
Brick ground floor and rendered finished to upper two floors. Three gables with windows and wood detailing and rendered finish, west gable similar but with detailing under eaves. Older windows are sash. Extended chimneys, flat tiled roof. Roofed porch with herringbone brick detail and wood inlay. Tiled entrance. Some stained-glass in porch. Panelled hall ceiling, hallway and adjacent room used as a bar panelled up to dado.
Substantial Victorian wood staircase with stained-glass windows on landing, large fireplaces in hallway and adjoining room. Extensive grounds with many mature specimen trees including impressive sequoia.
Below: The hotel is listed in the Fleet Neighbourhood Plan.
The response, which has taken almost seven months to be published, is extensively detailed as it responds to each point of the pre-application plans, a nod perhaps to the potential impact of the possible new development. The advice is summarised below.
With reference to a supply of housing in the area, HDC (Hart District Council), states that “[it has a] housing land supply in excess of five years so although the development would contribute to housing in the local district, it is not needed to achieve this”. It goes on to say that it would require affordable housing to be provided as part of the plans but as no provision had been made for this, it would need to be considered in any future application.
Below: Potential plans for the new development of retirement accommodation.
But the issue that is probably of most concern to anyone that lives in the area and knows the building, is will it be protected, or will the council allow it to be demolished? To answer that question, the documents refer to the Fleet Neighbourhood Plan which states that:
Appendix 3 of the FNP identifies Buildings of Heritage and Townscape Value, which includes the Lismoyne Hotel.
The building is highlighted as being directly associated with a significant period in the history of fleet, the social history of Fleet, a notable example of planning development, or of incidental development in Fleet, especially striking aesthetic value and maybe singled out as a landmark within the local scene, intrinsic design relates to local style, materials or other distinctive local characteristics and part of a group of buildings with a clear visual design or historic relationship, provides the streetscape with interest and variety and/or defines the area in which they stand as Fleet.
Policy 10 (FNP) requires development which affects any heritage to preserve or enhance the heritage asset and its setting and shall demonstrate how local distinctiveness is reinforced.
The text certainly seems to recognise the significance of the building in Fleet and there is little doubt many would agree that the loss of the building would be a detriment to the town. This is further backed up by a statement from the North Fleet Conservation Area Appraisal which states that: “The original Lismoyne Hotel building is a non-designated heritage asset (NDHA). The demolition of this building would have a substantial negative impact on the overall significance of this conservation area as well as the complete loss of a non-designated heritage asset”. It also comments that “There is currently no clear and convincing justification for the demolition of the building”.
Below: Drawings showing potential plans for the replacement complex of retirement flats.
So what does all this mean for the future of the hotel? As the plans were submitted as an advisory measurement, any response would have to be phrased in the same manner and so the published documents state that there is an “in-principle objection to the demolition of the original main building at the site due to the impact on heritage assets”. It also notes that “There is concern that the increase in height and massing of the proposed building, together with the complicated roof structure fails to reinforce local distinctiveness and would fail to preserve the character and appearance of the conservation area. It has not been demonstrated that the design of the proposed building would be of sufficiently high quality to overcome objections to the loss of the NDHA”.
“Some design elements from the original building have been reflected in the design of the new building which has also sought to connect with the arts and crafts architecture in the surrounding area (as stated in the design and access statement). However, some elements appear awkward and out of keeping with the existing building and surrounding area”.
Below: Advice issued also recognises the importance of the long established grounds of the hotel.
Further advice issued states that any potential plans should address everything from insufficient plans for parking to a tree survey, heritage assessment and a long list of additional information. Perhaps the most notable part though from the perspective of those who would object to seeing the building demolished, is that the document strongly advises the applicants to undertake a public consultation with local residents and the town council.
So, although the plans have not yet been formally submitted, meaning the council can only offer advise on any future development, it does appear that there’s a long way to go for anyone determined to go ahead with such a project.
Would you object to The Lismoyne Hotel being demolished for a retirement complex? or would you be in favour of it?