Shropshire Star

Church given permission to convert ex-Whitchurch pub into hotel, café and conference centre

A Philippines-based church group has been given approval to turn a former Whitchurch pub into a hotel and conference centre after parking issues were resolved.

Approval has been granted for the proposals for the Highgate in Whitchurch

The application, from the Free Believers in Christ Fellowship, requests change of use for The Highgate.

A similar proposal for the building was turned down in July because Shropshire Council planning officers were concerned at the amount of parking spaces proposed with the development.

The plan, will see the creation a hotel with 11 serviced bedrooms – all with en-suites, together with a coffee shop, dining room and private room, which will be available for the general public and for small conferences and events.

The previous plan included 17 parking spaces, which the council deemed unacceptable on highways safety grounds.

The new plan includes 36 car parking spaces.

The Highgate was built in the 1930s and operated as a pub until 1996 before becoming the base of local removals business Denmans.

Some members of the public have opposed the proposal, arguing its use is "unclear", while others cited concerns over noise, traffic, crime, and the potential that nearby properties would be de-valued.

In a report outlining the reasons for approving the proposal, council planning officer Richard Denison, said the plans now provided a "workable parking provision".

He also rejected the issues raised by those worried about the use of the site.

His report stated: "Concerns have also been raised regarding the use of the building being unclear.

"However, the proposal is for a hotel which will have bedrooms which will be serviced accommodation for short term stays that would be bookable by the public.

"The dining room will be open to the general public to book with the coffee shop servicing the space.

"The applicant envisages it could be booked by local businesses, community groups, etc for small conferences and events."

Mr Dennison added that the plan would generate jobs and provide a boost for the local economy.

He wrote: "The proposed hotel would lend to the economic dimension of sustainability by generating additional income locally, through the increased spending of visitors on goods, services, businesses, and attractions in the area, and providing new employment opportunities.

"The principle therefore for conversion would be considered acceptable. The proposed community hall, kitchen and bedroom extensions in relation to layout, scale and appearance would not be out of character with the existing building or impact on residential amenity.

"Whilst adequate safeguarding conditions can be imposed to prevent impact on neighbouring properties from noise and odour."

The Free Believers in Jesus Christ currently has 13 bases across England, including one in Shrewsbury.