Town councillors support Diss hotel bid

The manager of a Diss hotel made an impassioned plea to town councillors not to support plans for a new 60 bedroom hotel which he fears would ruin his business.

Andrew Paine, of the Park hotel, spoke during a Diss Town Council meeting on Wednesday, where proposals for the former Hamlin Factory site, in Park Road, were discussed.

Representatives for applicant Spen Hill Developments - the development arm of Tesco - were on hand to answer questions about the plans, which also include a new pub/restaurant, 150 car parking spaces and could create about 100 jobs.

Councillors voted to accept the application in principle, which seeks just outline planning permission at this stage.

Mr Paine, who has been a hotelier in the area for 15 years, said: 'There are four hotels in this area all struggling to fill our rooms up. There are just not enough people coming into Diss. They are all struggling desperately for business.

'We have no objection to the competition from a pub or restaurant. But we object to any sort of hotel in direct competition in this area. If they reduce their rooms to �20/�30 it will close all the hotels down. They simply will not survive.'

'We will fight tooth and nail for it. The Park Hotel has spent thousands and thousands and thousands of pounds to provide facilities for the people of Diss.'

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But Mark Buxton, of DDP Planning Consultants acting on behalf of Spen Hill Developments, argued there was demand and said local plans had identified the 1.5ha (3.7 acre) plot as a site for leisure developments. Councillors had objected to plans for retail warehouses on the land in the past.

'It will meet a demand for more hotel spaces in Diss and support the town centre by encouraging visitors into the town centre helping stimulate the overall regeneration of the area and adjoining sites which is in line with local planning policy,' he said.

Councillor Glyn Walden argued that the Park Hotel's reputation for quality and as a venue for young people would see its continual survival.

'I think this can only be good for the town. It will bring people into the town. It will bring business men here in large numbers,' he said.

However concerns were also raised about the hotel's proposed access points onto Park Road considering increases in traffic since the days of the Hamlin Factory, which closed in 1996 and was demolished four years ago.

Councillor Mike Bardwell said: 'To get out onto Park Road is bad. It's a terrible road. The visibility is very poor and I think two accesses onto Park Road is a no no.'

Others added that they would prefer to see a leisure centre, bowling alley or cinema in place of a pub/restaurant.

But councillor Graham Minshull added: 'It needs some tweaking but for those who want a cinema or bowling alley - face the facts. Diss is not big enough. What else do we do - we have rejected everything else on this site. I cannot see a reason to refuse it.'

Councillors voted seven in favour of the application, with two against and two abstentions.