Shropshire Star

Whitchurch hotel plan featuring rooftop bar is refused

Ambitious plans for a Shropshire town centre bed and breakfast which included a rooftop bar open until the early hours have been refused.

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An artist's impression of the proposed development for The Railway Spice in Whitchurch. Picture: Shropshire Council planning portal.

Proposals would have seen The Railway Spice in Whitchurch turned into a hotel, with additional rooms, a conference facility and rooftop bar.

The current nine-bedroomed bed and breakfast premises was proposed to be increased to 16 rooms – an additional seven bedrooms.

Applicant Sait Bayal said that the plans would create the equivalent of eight full-time jobs. The rooftop bar was proposed to be open from 11am through until 2.30am every day, including Sundays and Bank Holidays.

An artist's impression of the proposed development for The Railway Spice in Whitchurch. Picture: Shropshire Council planning portal.

Submitted plans showed five downstairs bedrooms with a restaurant and reception area among the ground-floor rooms. The first floor of the building was proposed to have eight bedrooms.

The current valeting building was planned to be converted to provide an additional three bedrooms on the first floor, with the ground floor showing three conference rooms.

In addition an extension to provide a rooftop bar was proposed. The existing number of 20 parking spaces was proposed to remain the same.

An artist's impression of the proposed development for The Railway Spice in Whitchurch. Picture: Shropshire Council planning portal.

Whitchurch Town Council voiced its objection to the development and said the plans constituted ‘overdevelopment’ of the site.

The town council argued that it was an ‘unsympathetic design’ and said that indicative drawings did not reflect a ‘realistic view’ of the surrounding streetscape and buildings.

Town councillors also raised concerns about existing traffic and parking pressures on the busy junction. They added that there was a ‘lack of sufficient parking provision’.

“It is stressed that the council very much welcomes initiatives to increase visitor numbers and encourage a vibrant (including night-time) economy if proposals accurately reflect evidenced ‘need’,” concluded the town council.

An individual objector raised concerns that the proposal could make existing parking problems on Talbot Street worse.

Another objector feared that the rooftop bar would overlook neighbouring properties.

The application received one letter of ‘complete support’ which welcomed the investment. They claimed that the Whitchurch Town Council objection ‘does not represent the residents’ views and opinions.’

Shropshire Council planning officer Mared Rees-Jones rejected the proposal.

She said: “The proposal, by virtue of the overall scale, design and appearance of the upper floor extension would not respect the character, appearance, design and detailing of the existing building, appearing as a discordant and obtrusive addition and representing overdevelopment of the site.

“In order to achieve the bar area as shown on the proposed roof plan, an extension would need to be constructed to facilitate this.

“The extension would protrude beyond the existing ridge line of the roof of the main building. It would have a flat roof and would consist of part brick and part glazing on its sides.

“The extension would appear discordant and completely at odds with the main building, appearing as an alien and intrusive feature when viewed from the street scene."

She added: “The sides and roof of the restaurant and roof top bar appear [that they] would be able to open when weather permits. This is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the surrounding residential properties.

“Notwithstanding this, even when the sides and roof are closed, the structure is unlikely to provide sufficient noise attenuation, dependent on the nature of construction.

“To fully assess the likely impact, a noise report would need to be submitted assessing the impact of human noise and music noise on surrounding receptors and detailing proposed mitigation where the assessment indicates it is necessary.”

The planning officer added that the proposed site access onto Talbot Street was ‘inadequate’ due to its width and visibility being restricted.

Mrs Rees-Jones also said that a heritage assessment had not been submitted and that there was insufficient information submitted around parking, noise levels and ecology.