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Former hotel could end up as houses

PUBLISHED: 13:07 17 April 2003 | UPDATED: 13:45 03 March 2010

IF the owners of a former prestigious hotel can convince councillors that no-one will use it for a jobs-boosting scheme, they will allow its conversion for homes.

IF the owners of a former prestigious hotel can convince councillors that no-one will use it for a jobs-boosting scheme, they will allow its conversion for homes.

But councillors are not happy for the parkland surrounding the old Melton Grange Hotel being developed with houses – not until they have seen much more detailed proposals and a design brief for the eight-acre site.

Suffolk Coastal's development south control sub committee refused permission for an immediate use of the hotel building, in Pytches Road, Melton, for housing but accepted that could be its ultimate use.

Officers will now negotiate with the owners Chater Land Holdings and ask for more national marketing of the site to be done for employment use such as a nursing home, private school, country club or company headquarters.

The company – which bought the site for around £1.5 million in July 2001 – says although the hotel has not been actively marketed for three years, there was little change then and it does not believe that situation will be different now.

It has shown interested organisations around the property recently, including a private school, religious lifestyle group and nursing home owners, but none of the interest had been followed up.

It feels housing is the best use and gives a much more focussed way of dealing with the site.

Councillors' reactions were mixed, but they accepted by five votes to three that permission for housing, which could have included demolition of the hotel, should be refused at this stage.

Councillor Ivan Jowers said: "I don't think it's been properly marketed and I think they need to satisfy me that there is no other way forward before we look closely at housing."

But councillor John Leggett felt commercial use was unlikely because of the recently-built housing developments which now surround the site.

"It is very sad to lose this hotel, which has been part of the local fabric for a long time. But I think we have to move with the times and accept the fact that it has got to return to housing," he said.

"I think the death knell for the hotel was the Melton Woods development because, with all due respect to the residents, the new residents have complained about anything and everything, noise and disturbance, and I think complaints will continue to arise whatever commercial use is found."

The Melton Grange – parts of which date back to the 1700s – has been standing empty since its sudden and controversial closure three years ago. Residents, parish councillors, and conservationists are all in favour of housing.

Planning officers say the proposals are against policy, would spoil the area, could harm protected trees on the site, no cash sum has been put forward towards local play facilities, and not enough detail provided about the homes proposed.

n What do think – should the Melton Grange and its parkland be used for housing? Write to Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk


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