Published: 06:00, 08 October 2019
| Updated: 12:17, 08 October 2019
The building of retirement homes at London Beach Hotel in Tenterden will underpin the success of the hotel, spa and golf club in years to come.
That's the claim of co-owner Pierre Edmonds who wants to add 60 retirement flats to the Ashford Road resort to future-proof it from recession.
Plans have been submitted to Ashford Borough Council (ABC) in the form of a hybrid application that seeks full permission for one three-storey block containing 12 two-bedroom flats and outline planning permission for four blocks containing 48 two-bedroom flats.
Canterbury-based Goddard Planning has submitted a supporting letter to ABC on behalf of hotel owners the Edmonds’ brothers, stating the scheme is "crucial to sustain the London Beach as a hotel, golf course, and health spa and to continue its vital contribution to tourism, recreation and employment in the area".
The accommodation for the "active retired" would be adjacent to and north of Little Orchards where permission has already been granted for 17 retirement properties.
But the proposal has not found favour with Tenterden and District Residents' Association and its planning secretary Siggi Nepp has objected on the grounds the development is in open countryside and would result in "urban sprawl" impacting on the identities of the villages of St Michaels and High Halden.
The Weald of Kent Protection Society also fears the scheme would have an "urbanising" effect on the rural approach to Tenterden and would generate excessive traffic, while it also objects to the design of the blocks.
A number of retirement developers have set their sights on Tenterden with the latest bid from Churchill Retirement Living to build 50 apartments on land at the entrance to Tesco on Smallhythe Road.
The firm recently held a public presentation of its plans at St Mildred's church hall and a spokesman said: “The design and appearance of the proposed development, including the frontage onto Smallhythe Road, were generally well received by those who attended.
“The need for more older people’s housing in the area was also widely acknowledged.”
Mr Edmonds says the retirement scheme is a different offering to any other in Tenterden.
The apartments would be for rent only with use of the hotel’s fitness suite, spa and golf course integrated into the offering, with a philosophy of "ensuring individuals remain well and active for as long as possible into old age".
Mr Edmonds said: “The development will be a little like a substantial annex of the hotel.
"It would contribute towards the running costs of the hotel and support its viability in the future and the continued employment of its 70 staff.
“The council has already given three separate planning permission for similar apartments for active retired people on our land within and around the hotel.”
He said together the developments would form a "critical mass" linking "functionally and physically with the hotel complex".
A fleet of electric cars and bikes would be available as part of a sustainable travel plan.