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Neighbours Fear Demolition of Landmark Victorian Hotel Building

Published on: 2 Apr, 2013
Updated on: 4 Apr, 2013
Albury Hotel Some neighbours fear demolition of what they feel is a landmark building

The Albury Hotel on Epsom Road. Some neighbours fear the demolition of what they see is a landmark building.

Neighbours of the Albury Hotel building, on Epsom Road, Guildford, are concerned over its future. They fear the notable Victorian building, formerly called Quinns Hotel, might be demolished and replaced by flats.

Following its business failure in recent times as an Indian restaurant and hotel, it has been sold to Shanly Homes, that has plans to redevelop the site with, it says “a degree of support from neighbours in the area who were unhappy with the activities that had been going on in the old hotel”.

But local entrepreneur Nahid McNeil wants to save the building from demolition. She already successfully runs the nearby Godalming Hotel. This too had been a neglected building and dates back to Victorian times. She is confident that, if given the chance, she can make a going concern of the Albury Hotel too.

Guildford Borough Council (GBC) has stated in a pre-planning consultation that there are too few hotel rooms available in Guildford.

The building has been boarded up since the hotel and restaurant it contained got into financial difficulties

The building has been boarded up since the hotel and restaurant it contained got into financial difficulties.

And in a letter from Chris Howard, a former business and tourism manager with GBC, sent during a previous planning application, he wrote: “Run correctly … Quinns Hotel would make another excellent and much needed small hotel for Guildford.”

“[It] would be a fantastic asset to the Guildford economy because of its prime location. Guildford is still desperately short of good hotel accommodation and I therefore object to this application for change of use.”

An application to turn the hotel into flats was refused in 1996 and the subsequent appeal was dismissed. In 2010 an application for change of use was refused.

It is thought that the likelihood of the planning application being granted for flats instead of a hotel this time remains low, mainly because of planning condition T4. This condition states: “The council will resist the loss of hotels… unless equivalent facilities are first made elsewhere or where it can be demonstrated that: 1. the retention of a facility has been fully explored without success; 2. the site is unsuitably located.”

No evidence has been submitted with the planning application that the applicant has fully explored or demonstrated the possibility for the retention of this building as hotel and Mrs McNeil has stated that she would be happy to take it on.

But fears exist that the owners Shanly Homes, that wants to replace the building with a block of 12 flats, might try to circumvent this obstacle by applying for ‘prior notification of demolition’. The building is not listed and, so long as all the necessary information is given, such an application cannot be turned down.

One resident from Merrow who regularly passes the hotel and has sent people to it as part of her work said she was against the redevelopment. She said: “There has been too much change already in Guildford.”

Mrs McNeil said: Albury Hotel has been much neglected over the years but could recover some of its previous grandeur.

"The building has several unusual features," including this bell tower

The building has several unusual features, including this bell tower.

“It has several interesting period features internally and externally and even boasts a bell tower. It has great potential as a small hotel being so close to the town centre and would be a great asset to the business community.

“By disregarding the refusal of the previous attempt to build flats on the site, Shanley Homes have tried to ride roughshod over council planning policies. They have, I feel, treated the local community and the council with contempt.”

A spokesman for Shanly Homes said: “Shanly Homes is proposing to redevelop the site of the Albury Hotel in Epsom Road. Its planning  application is currently with Guildford Council for a decision which, if granted, will result in the demolition of the existing building, and the construction of a new building containing 12 apartments.

“As has been widely reported in the national and local press, there is an urgent need for new housing in the South East and particularly in the Guildford area, where the demand for new apartments is particularly strong, and where a number of new hotels have opened in the town centre to satisfy demand.

“Before submitting the planning application, Shanly Homes carried out extensive consultation with the council and the local community, and received a degree of support from neighbours in the area who were unhappy with the activities that had been going on in the old hotel.

“Since the closure of the hotel in November last year, these unauthorised activities, which included an illegal restaurant,  have stopped. Shanly Homes has also confirmed that no demolition will take place until the requisite consent has been received from the council.”

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Responses to Neighbours Fear Demolition of Landmark Victorian Hotel Building

  1. David Smith Reply

    April 3, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    I would like to make two comments:

    Yes there is a need for housing but it’s not luxury two and three bedroom apartments that will be rented out, it’s affordable housing and small family homes.

    Secondly, why has this “degree of support” not been logged on to the Guildford Borough Council website in active support of this application?

    I am not impressed by the management of Shanly Homes. I’d be questioning who has put this application together and whether they know anything about planning at all. After all the latest application to demolish has been refused for total lack of information including method statement.

    • George Wilson Reply

      April 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      There is no support for the development: over 50 against both applications and none for!

      The only support will be found in the bank accounts of Shanly Homes.

  2. David Smith Reply

    June 4, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Mrs McNeil has stated that she would be happy to take it on. Well someone should tell her it’s for sale.

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