Ashby Civic Society asks why 'nothing is happening' at Royal Hotel site - a year after housing plans given the go-ahead

By Graham Hill

9th Jul 2024 | Local News

The current state of the Royal Hotel site in Ashby. Photo: Ashby Nub News
The current state of the Royal Hotel site in Ashby. Photo: Ashby Nub News

Ashby Civic Society has called for more information about the condition of the Royal Hotel - and questioned the 'very strange state of affairs' at the site.

North West Leicestershire District Council gave the go-ahead for a scheme to build 17 town houses around the Royal, just under a year ago.

The Oakland Hotel scheme was designed to bring the Royal back into use after lying empty for what is now six years.

The Royal closed in 2018 due to financial pressures, and the need for investment to bring the building up to modern standards - and it stood empty while its owners worked out a viable plan.

But, when planning permission was granted for the development, a Section 106 legal agreement was included to make sure repairs to the hotel were completed.

How the scheme is projected to look when it is completed. Image: BHB Architects

At the time, District Council leader, Cllr Richard Blunt, said: "When the developer puts the roof on the hotel, the first seven houses can be started, then work is done to the outside of the building, and three houses can be started."

But the Civic Society says full planning permission has yet to be agreed.

The Society's chairman, Ken Ward, has written a letter to Ashby de la Zouch Town Council, and he read it out to Monday's meeting of the planning committee.

It says: "It has been many months since the District Council approved the plans for the townhouses to be built in the Royal Hotel grounds. 

"The planning meeting was told by Cllr Blunt that the section 106 agreement that was attached to the planning permission would be agreed shortly after that meeting. It would appear that this has still not been agreed.

Photo: Ashby Nub News

"I have been regularly asking the Chief Planning Officer for information on this very strange state of affairs and most recently was told the document would shortly be 'sealed' and then restoration could begin. This obviously has not happened.

"The public was also informed that, following renovations to the roof, further works would be carried out on the exterior of the former hotel and then restoration would follow.

"The Civic Society is still being asked: 'What is happening to the Royal' and the answer appears to be – nothing. 

"No further exterior works seem to have been carried out and no legal agreement for the planning permission has been passed, so is it time for Ashby Town Council to take steps to find out what is happening?

"Ashby Civic Society would like Ashby Town Council to ask the District Council for reasons as to why the planning permission has not actually been granted. Without this step, no houses will be built and no money will be available for the restoration.

Photo: Ashby Nub News

"Would the Town Council planning committee discuss this matter and ask the question? 

"The longer this goes on the more people are thinking – will it ever get restored? Is there a deal being arranged between the owner and NWLDC? This period of silence has gone on long enough."

Work on restoring the Royal Hotel and turning it into a boutique venue facility was described as 'on track' after a site visit by Ashby councillors in February.

Owner Simon Dawson invited councillors Chris Smith and David Bigby to the Royal building to see how work was progressing.

Ashby Town Council's planning committee agreed to take the matter up with the District Council.

In the meantime, North West Leicestershire District Council has been approached for comment.

     

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