Published: 06:00, 20 September 2021
| Updated: 14:47, 20 September 2021
The owners of one of Canterbury’s oldest hotels fear it will slowly die and close if it is not allowed to invest in innovative new accommodation.
Directors make the gloomy prediction as they attempt to gain planning permission for six eco-pods in the back garden of the 16th century House of Agnes in St Dunstan’s Street.
In the proposal, their agents say the Covid crisis has “brought matters to a head” for the business, which has been hit hard by a huge loss in trade.
“If the hotel is not allowed to expand and improve its facilities, at best it will slowly limp along and continue to decline until it is no longer financially viable,” they add.
The application is for six, free-standing wooden pods for two guests each, with en-suite facilities. They would be connected to water and electricity supplies.
The hotel’s general manager, Sandie de Rougemont, says there has been a drastic fall in overseas tourists in Canterbury, which had previously accounted for up to 70% of her trade.
“We have also lost other business from events like university graduation days, and are mainly keeping going with an increase in staycation visitors,” she said.
The hotel currently has 16 en-suite rooms, a cottage room in the main building and eight ancillary rooms in outbuildings.
But Mrs de Rougemont hopes the eco-pods will prove a further attraction to the hotel and make it a “destination venue”.
“We have always prided ourselves on offering a variety of accommodation, and all our rooms have different themes,” she said.
“The eco-pods could just help us improve our occupancy.
“All we are trying to do is maximise the use of our space.”
The hotel’s planning agents argue the plans involve no structural changes to the Grade II-listed building.
They say the eco-pods are an “appropriate extension” to the hotel’s facilities and consistent with council policies on supporting the economy and tourism.
The bid will be decided upon at a later date.