‘Astonishing’ bid to demolish MJB’s Lodge Hotel in Norwich is rejected

MJB Group hotels, Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

MJB Group hotels, Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

An 'astonishing' application to demolish a budget hotel in an historic Norwich building has today been unanimously rejected.

MJB Group hotels, Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

MJB Group hotels, Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Tony Burlingham, who manages a number of budget hotels operated by MJB Group, had requested permission from Norwich City Council to demolish the Lodge Hotel in Unthank Road.

He wanted to knock down the 19th century locally listed building in a conservation area to build a new complex of six houses, two with five bedrooms and four with six bedrooms.

But the city council received 188 objections to his plans and today voted to refuse him permission.

Mike Sands, chairman of the planning committee, said: 'I am astonished by this application, and it is not often I am lost for words.'

Ash Haynes, leader of the Green group at the city council, spoke against yhe application.

She said: 'It's a significant building in a very prominent site as you come down Unthank Road.

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'It would be a real shame if it was demolished and the proposed building is not on keeping with the conservation area.'

The application was rejected for a string of reasons, including that its loss would impact on the character and appearance of the conservation area, that the new building's poor quality and design would be out of keeping with the area and that no justification had been given for why the existing building could not be converted instead.

Mr Burlingham was not at today's meeting to speak in support of his application.

He had previously said he submitted the planning application to give residents a choice, after complaints about the budget hotels.

In 2014 two MJB properties hit the headlines after Mr Burlingham admitted they were being used by prostitutes.

He had said: 'I'm not fussed about whether it gets planning permission or not. If they don't want it demolished then I will stay. Not a problem at all.

'I was just doing it to see if the Green Party would like me to leave.

'I'm quite happy with the hotel as it is, and if they're happy for me to stay then fine.'

Seven properties along Norwich's Unthank Road and Dereham Road, as well as a further six in Dereham, Wymondham and elsewhere in the county are owned by Maxine and Tony Burlingham.