Plans for 115-bed hotel at 'eyesore' site in Norwich turned down

The former railway social club at Ailwyn Hall in Lower Clarence Road, which Norwich City Council is

Plans to build a hotel at the site of Ailwyn Hall in Norwich have been rejected. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Plans for a six-storey hotel at the site of an "eyesore" derelict building, which Norwich City Council wants to force its owner to sell, have been rejected.

Ailwyn Hall, the former railway social club, on Lower Clarence Road in Thorpe Hamlet has been unused since 2005, with Gail Harris, deputy leader at City Hall, branding it an "eyesore".

Gail Harris, Labour's candidate for Catton Grove in the Norwich City Council 2012 elections.

Gail Harris, deputy leader of Norwich City Council. - Credit: Sid Frisby

In November last year, the city council's Labour-controlled cabinet agreed to seek a compulsory purchase order to make the owner sell the site, with the council keen to build social housing there.

That decision came despite representatives for the site’s owners calling for the item to be withdrawn from the agenda, because plans for a hotel at the site had recently been lodged.

That application, from Lower Clarence Road Investments Ltd, to knock down Ailwyn Hall to build a 115-bed hotel has now been turned down.

In documents lodged with the council, the applicant said: "The proposed development is considered to deliver a tourist accommodation which satisfies a demonstrable need within a highly sustainable location."

They said, being close to Norwich Railway Station, the site was an "ideal location" for a hotel.

The plans also included a "food and beverage" unit on the ground floor.

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However, using delegated powers, planning officers at City Hall refused to grant permission - because of the "unacceptable scale, bulk and massing" of the building.

Near neighbours had raised concern that the building would overshadow their homes.

And Royal Mail, which has its mail centre in Thorpe Road, expressed concern hotel guests would complain about the noise from vans arriving to drop off and collect post.

Norwich Royal Mail sorting office.. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Royal Mail's centre in Thorpe Road. - Credit: Archant

Officers, in turning down the plans, said: "Due to its scale, bulk and massing the proposal would be unduly dominant and cause harm to the character of the street scene on Lower Clarence
Road and to the St Matthew’s Conservation Area."

They said it would also have an "unacceptable impact in terms of overshadowing and overbearing on homes in Thorpe Road and within Regency Court.

And they said it was not clear if mitigation measures would prevent  future hotel guests from making noise complaints about the Royal Mail office.

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