Published: 13:00, 29 May 2022
| Updated: 10:54, 30 May 2022
Residents have blasted a “foolish” bid to convert a ramshackle former hotel and its surrounding land into 19 homes.
Developers submitted plans to Swale Borough Council to transform the Grade II-listed Garden Hotel in The Street, Boughton-under-Blean, near Faversham.
They want the hotel building to become three homes, with a further 16 houses on the remaining 1.9-acre site – the size of almost one-and-a-half football pitches.
However, despite many residents wanting the building to be redeveloped, dozens sent letters of objection to the borough council.
The hotel closed in 2005, having failed to be sustainable and the building has remained unused since.
In 2008, planning permission was granted to turn the building – which dates back to the 17th century – into 10 homes and some work was completed.
But the scheme ultimately proved to be “economically unviable” and the land was marketed and sold in April 2018.
Applicant Altimat Property bought it on the basis of “progressing a better-informed enabling scheme” to restore the former hotel building.
Access to the site is via a road through it, which the developer considers to be “difficult and possibly a little dangerous” for intensive use by vehicles.
Instead, it wants to upgrade the existing access to a neighbouring chapel that already connects with the hotel parking area.
The former hotel car park had 30 spaces but the proposed development has parking for 37, including four for visitors.
Resident David Jones says it would “exacerbate significant traffic problems”, put further pressure on health services, education and other amenities, and “fundamentally change the character” of the village.
“While a redevelopment of the hotel along the lines of the approved 2012 application will be welcome, the current application clearly uses the hotel purely as a hook for building a new estate on the adjoining land,” he said.
“This is obvious from the fact that only three new dwellings are proposed for the building itself, with 16 additional units surrounding it.”
Joanne Weaver says the Garden Hotel “should be improved as it has been left to deteriorate for many years” and believes previous plans would have “saved the building as well as conserved local wildlife”.
“However, the plans for 19 new dwellings with a lack of parking is foolish,” she said.
“There is a lack of parking in the village already and as this development is at the busier end of the street it will become more dangerous and stressful to park or even drive through, particularly during redevelopment.
“Parked cars are frequently being hit and damaged.”
Louise Lundgren says that while she does not object to the development of the Garden Hotel building, she does oppose the whole site being revamped.
“There are already massive issues with traffic and parking in the street and the proposed access is at one of the narrowest parts,” she said.
“The over-development of the site would mean at least another 30 to 40 vehicles trying to get out onto the Street at this point.
“This combined with heavy traffic at school and peak travelling times will make the access even more dangerous.
However, neighbour Richard Peebles has thrown his support behind the proposals.
“During our time next door, the hotel building has been an eyesore, a source of vermin and subject to break-ins,” he said.
“The building has deteriorated further and at times has presented serious risks to unauthorised occupants, and some narrow escapes for passers-by.
“Under the current owners the security of the building has greatly improved, although in the absence of any major refurbishment, the fabric of the building continues to deteriorate.”
KentOnline was unable to contact the developer for comment.