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Hotel plan approved despite Rochester parking fears

A new hotel in the centre of Rochester has been narrowly approved – even though it will only have four parking spaces.

Councillors had argued that the plans for the 110-bed hotel on Corporation Street should be rejected because of the impact on already busy car parks near by.

But planning officers said the council would probably lose any future appeal because it had already approved an identical building, but with only 81 bedrooms.

The extra rooms will be on an extra floor within the approved shell of the building.

The hotel, which is backed by a Glasgow-based developer, says most visitors would use public transport to get there, and produced survey information that showed the car parks were busiest after 10pm.

But councillors were not happy.

Cllr Ken Bamber (Con), described the supporting car park survey as “completely phoney.”

Cllr Steve Hubbard (Lab) said there should have been an independent assessment to advise councillors.

The vice chairman, Cllr Peter Hicks (Con) agreed.

He was also sceptical about the figures. “The peak demand is probably between 6pm and 7pm,” he said. “The majority will wish to travel by car.”

Officers are requiring the developer to promote the use of the Corporation Street car park, rather than the adjacent ones for the cathedral and the Casino Rooms.

Cllr Nick Bowler (Lab) said it was the ugliest design he had ever seen.

“Eighty rooms is one thing – 110 are another,” he said.

Cllr Dorte Gilry (Lib Dem) also made it clear he wasn’t a fan, saying it was like having a Heathrow control tower being placed in a conservation area.

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