£24.99-a-night easyHotel given planning approval in Cambridge despite opposition
Controversial plans for an easyHotel in Cambridge were given the go-ahead today amid strong opposition.
The 90-bed “super budget” hotel will be built in Newmarket Road, on the junction with Godestone Road, on the site of the J H Cooper and Son showroom.
Cambridge City Council’s planning committee voted three votes to three, with the decision going with the chair’s for approval.
More than 150 people objected to the application when it was first submitted.
Speaking after the decision, Mike Evans, the co-ordinator for the residents’s campaign against the development, said he was “disappointed,” as were the 400 residents he said signed a petition against the plans.
He said residents in the area “are going to have a rather difficult life” as a result.
“There are no amenities at the hotel so people will be chatting, drinking and smoking on the pavement outside their houses. There will be taxis in the middle of the night picking up people and waiting. It’s going to be very difficult for their lives,” he said.
Cllr Dave Baigent said: “This is going to be a noisy venue”.
Richard Kiersey, property director for easyHotel, said afterwards: “We’re delighted that planning permission has been granted for our new easyHotel in Cambridge.
“We’re looking forward to offering visitors to this fantastic, culture-rich city a great value place to stay for their trip.”
The planning application was expected to be decided in June, but the planning committee indicated it was likely to vote against the planning officer’s recommendation and reject the application.
For today’s meeting (September 4) the planning officer’s report again recommended approval and warned councillors their objections and subsequent rejection would likely be overturned at appeal, and at a financial cost to the council.
Cllr Kelley Green hit out at the process, saying officers’ advice was making it “difficult to sustain a rejection”.
“I’m worried that whichever way we go it’s looking like it will be an approval for the developer,” she said. “In a way, I feel like the officer’s are undermining councillors’ position”.
And she questioned why councillors are asked to make decisions if they cannot disagree sustain a disagreement with officers.
Director of planning and economic development, Stephen Kelly, said he and the council’s staff were obligated to provide the best professional advice and judgement.
Planning officer Lorraine Casey told the meeting there is a need for more hotel rooms in the city, and there is “effectively a gap in the market” for super-budget hotels.
But Cllr Green said the “super budget” branding was just that, and prices would be comparable to other hotels in the area.
EasyHotel, part of the same brand as easyJet and easyGym, advertises rooms “from £24.99” on its website.
There is already a Premier Inn and Travelodge in the area.
The easyHotel proposal would see 211-213 Newmarket Road demolished and 2 Godestone Road converted, to make a three-storey building, with a two-storey frontage.
Furniture shop J H Cooper and Son currently occupies the Newmarket Road site. The council said the owners have written in support of the hotel proposal on the grounds that they can no longer support a viable business there.
More by this authorBen Hatton, Local Democracy Reporter
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