Thistle Hotel redevelopment plan including 228 flats rejected

Councillors decided the scale of the scheme for the Thistle Hotel site, with 228 flats in four blocks, a 118-bed hotel with restaurants as well as other commercial units, would be out of keeping with the conservation area.

They objected to the height and bulk of some of the buildings, a lack of affordable housing and claimed the re-worked site would bring extra traffic problems to the area as well as overshadow existing housing.

More than 200 objections has been lodged to the proposals including from the main resident’s associations in the area.

Most accepted that the area needed to be re-developed, but not as proposed.

The developers had put forward plans for a 215-space underground parking area for the flats and hotel –with 59 spaces allocated to hotel use.

Cllr Ann Stribley, who proposed rejecting the development, said that with a function room and a roof top restaurant, the parking allocated to the hotel was inadequate and would lead to traffic problems as guests and those attending functions tried to park on the streets.

The BCP planning board was told that, despite the concerns, if the application had no parking spaces it would still comply with current council parking policies.

Cllr Stribley also objected to a lack of affordable homes on the site, or a contribution to building homes elsewhere, but was told than an independent assessment had decided affordable homes was not viable – taking into account legislation due to be introduced by the Government in the coming year.

Cllr Mike Brooke said: “Yet again we have a scheme with no affordable housing…it is one of our most important needs and it fails totally on that score.”

Cllr Stribley said her main concerns were with the scale and design of the five blocks, up to eight or nine storeys, which she said would overlook and dominate former fisherman’s cottages, the lifeboat museum and homes in nearby streets, spoiling the look of the conservation area.

The meeting heard that the site had been ear-marked in the Poole Quays neighbourhood plan for hotel use and up to 180 homes.

Mark Humphreys, senior associate architect, said the scheme had been carefully considered and altered over three years after talks with council officers and consulting local people. He said the developers believed it would bring a high quality character scheme which would improve the area and make a valuable contribution to the local economy, making good use of a brownfield site.

The application was rejected by a vote of eight to two.

Developers MHA issued a brief statement after the decision: ‘We are very disappointed by the committee’s decision. We believe that our scheme, which is the culmination of three years’ work, is a fantastic example of how a brownfield site can be brought forward as a catalyst for regeneration.

“We will now need to consider our options.”

Speaking after the meeting, Poole Town councillor Mark Howell said: “The application amounted to overdevelopment and would have irreparably harmed the character of the Fishermen’s Cottages and Old Lifeboat Station. The site does need to be developed, but not at any cost. We must protect Poole’s heritage as it is key to revitalising the town.”

Bournemouth Echo | News