Thursday, August 5, 2010

Developers Present Plans for New Hotel

The developers of the Red House site on Station Road presented their latest plans to Councillors yesterday.

The site, on the north side of Station Road between Tenison Road and the station has been subject to two previous applications for hotels - a smaller successful application in 2006 (that wasn't implemented), and a plan for a larger 169 room hotel in 2009 that was turned down, mostly on transport grounds.

The site is next to Great Eastern House, which Microsoft wants to rebuild as its UK HQ. Whilst it isn't part of the area covered by the CB1 outline planning permission, the new plans seek to fit in with the CB1 proposals, which include a small open space behind the hotel site.

The developers, O'Callaghan hotels, are appealing against the refusal last year, but are also going to put in this new application to address the concerns raised (presumably in case the appeal fails). They are addressing the concerns by reducing the proposed height of the new building (which will be around 7 storeys), and putting in place a valet parking scheme.

Whilst the building itself looks to be a reasonable design for a business class hotel in an area destined to become more of an urban business district, I am concerned about the valet parking plans.

The new plans propose no on-site car parking, with those hotel customers who do have cars being offered valet parking - which will involve hotel staff transporting cars to the Leisure Park car park on Clifton Road. Even if, as developers claim, few guests will arrive by car - the valet parking will still create additional traffic on busy Hills Road and Cherry Hinton Road. It seems ironic that this scheme proposes to solve the problem of lack of parking on site by creating additional trips to the Leisure Park, when the lack of parking on CB1 was the reason given why such a large redevelopment wouldn't generate significant additional traffic. Even if the additional trips are relatively few, it will still add to an existing problem with the plans for the CB1 area.

The developers also claimed to have looked at parking restrictions around the site, and concluded there was nowhere that hotel customers could freely park for long periods of time. I asked if they had considered the Rustat Road area in their analysis, less than 10 minutes walk away - and as with the CB1 developer, the answer was no, this area, and its existing commuter parking problems had been forgotten. I don't accept that hotel users won't know about this, even guests who aren't on a repeat trip - all it will take is one comment about the valet parking and the Rustat Road alternative on a website like Tripadvisor and it could significantly add to the problems Coleridge residents are already facing and will face from commuter parking in the parts of the ward near the station.


Equinox said...

Something tells me that residents' permits will in the longer term be the only way to deal with this.

That is unless a proposed railway station at Chesterton goes ahead and they decide to build a similar hotel there.

Talking about trains and things, feel free to have a look at and cascade to all and sundry - it's a map of the UK rail network pre-Beeching - and has lots of interesting ideas that, developments-not-getting-in-the-way-permitting has lots of options on what lines could be reopened.

Not that this will happen anytime soon but I am jumping up and down for the reopening of the Oxford-Cambridge rail link.

Equinox said...

There's also been a proposal for lots of student units 500+ on the station road site.

What's your take on that development?

Chris Howell said...

Hi Equinox,

The hotel, although in the station area, is a separate site so I don't think is part of the CB1 masterplans that received outline planning permission.

The student accommodation however is very much part of the CB1 plans, so agreement was already made in principle for hundreds of student dwellings in the station area in 2008 when CB1 got outline planning permission - my views on the CB1 outline plans haven't changed much since then - they are trying to fit too much into a small space, with too little open space, too little land area dedicated to transport infrastructure, and have optimistic assessments of the extent to which car movements and car parking is likely to increase in the wider area.

The first detailed application for the student dwellings covered blocks by the railways and adjacent to the Warren Close flats (with a bus terminus squeezed in between the two (sets of) blocks) - this was refused.

As the masterplan is developed through a series of these detailed planning applications for individual buildings, I think we will start to see the problems of making detailed designs work within the masterplan - be interesting to see how it pans out.