SCARBOROUGH could lose some of its larger historic hotels to developers, it has been claimed.
Members of Scarborough Council’s Planning Committee approved a move to redevelop the site of the former Moorlands Hotel in Whitby and replace it with 12 homes.
Cllr Alf Abbott, who represents residents living in the Whitby West Cliff ward, said this goes directly against one of Scarborough Council’s planning policies – L5 – which states that the change of use of hotels with more than 30 bed spaces should not be permitted.
He added: “Has this opened a can of worms for other things to happen in the borough. If all these hotels go the borough couldn’t function as a holiday destination.”
Cllr Abbott said that the move had set a precedent for struggling hoteliers across the Scarborough area to close their businesses and offer them for sale to developers.
He said: “Have they opened the door for the big hotels to shut down and sell to developers? Have they opened the door for developers to come in a grab the existing hotel stock in the prime holiday area and do what they want with it?
Whitby Hospitality Association objected to the proposed redevelopment of the site and a spokesman said that members had concerns regarding the loss of hotel accommodation. He added: “Should the planning committee allow this application the planning policies will not be worth the paper they are written on. We consider that there are major inaccuracies and contradictions in the applicants information and they should be treated with care.”
Pauline Elliott, the council’s head of regeneration and planning services, said every application was considered on its own merits. She added: “In this particular instance the accommodation was sub-standard with moderately sized rooms and shared bathrooms.
“If modifications were made, it would only achieve 24 bed-spaces taking it below the 30-room threshold, meaning the decision taken by councillors was in accordance with planning policy.
“We had encouraged the developers to look at hotel use, but it was not viable. This decision will mean four much-needed affordable new homes for Whitby.”
The Moorlands Hotel, in North Promenade, was the second largest in Whitby and closed in March 2010.
In a report by Jill Low, the council’s planning manager, she said the hotel lay just within the prime holiday area and the policy criteria was currently under review by the council’s Forward Planning Team.
She added: “They have noted that North Promenade has lost a number of hotels and guest houses over the years and consider that it would be difficult to refuse this proposal on the grounds of L5, particularly when the evidence suggests there is little market demand.”
Mrs Low said that the hotel did provide more than 30 bedroom spaces but the majority of the were rooms are of modest proportions, like hostel-type accommodation, and generally lacking en suite facilities.
Members voted to grant approval with a number of conditions.