Concerns over new hotel plan
PLANS for a new hotel on a busy Exeter junction have sparked anger.
The proposed 127-bed hotel, if given the go-ahead, would see the demolition of National House, the former Job Centre on the corner of Queen Street and New North Road.
Across the road from the clock tower, the five-storey building has been empty for the past eight years, and while some residents say they would like to see the corner redeveloped, they do not think this hotel is the answer.
They say it is not appropriate for a conservation area, would have a disastrous effect on a number of small hotels nearby and would cause parking problems.
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It will not provide any parking for its guests and Kelvin Lacey, chairman of the St David's Partnership, said: "At the moment parking works in the area as, during the day, we have office workers who then move out as residents are coming home. But hotel guests would be parking overnight as residents do."
A group of residents has banded together to fight the hotel plans, and its members are urging residents to write letters of objection to the city council.
So far 51 objections have been received, including one from English Heritage.
Chris Dent, a resident and a planning consultant representing owners of small hotels, said: "There are already difficulties because of the new Premier Inn opposite the station, and now this 127-bed hotel is proposed right in the midst of a lot of small hotels."
Resident Tavs Jorgensen said: "We are not against redeveloping or improving the site, but this would have a negative impact.
"The proposed hotel would be equivalent to six floors, taller than any other building in the area, and completely fill the whole site. It would totally dominate the surrounding conservation area, with its many historic and listed buildings.
"Equally, the proposal doesn't include any plans for green areas or mature trees.
"There are also concerns that the inevitable large increase in traffic could lead to gridlock in the already very congested area around the historic Clock Tower and exacerbate noise and pollution.
"There could also be highway safety concerns as a result of this increase in traffic and proposed kerb side crossings."
Keith Owen is ward councillor for St James, which has some residents who will be affected by the new buildings.
Cllr Owen said: "It is about what replaces the building there now. It is on one of the main roads into Exeter so it is important we get a very good building here.
"The feeling from residents seems to be that what is proposed will be much more overbearing than what is there now.
"I am going to have a meeting about this with the planning officer concerned to discuss residents' concerns."