Plans for ‘super budget’ easyHotel in Cambridge recommended for approval
Plans for a controversial “super budget” hotel in Cambridge look set to go ahead as the decision goes to councillors next week.
The proposal is for an easyHotel to be built in Newmarket Road on the junction with Godesdone Road.
It went before Cambridge City Council’s planning committee on June 17, but was adjourned when councillors indicated that they would vote against the planning officer’s recommendation and reject the plan.
The committee will be asked again on Wednesday (September 4) to make a decision, with the planning officer again recommending approval.
The 90-bed hotel would provide no restaurant, bar or parking, and has been strongly objected to by some residents and councillors.
But councillors have been advised that the major concerns raised in June either cannot be substantiated or are not significant enough to justify refusal.
While planning decisions are ultimately made by councillors at committee, they have to be based on set criteria and can be legally challenged.
One of the key arguments made against the plan in June that led to the decision being deferred is that the application will contradict a policy on hotel development. But the council’s report on this says it is “highly unlikely to be successful at appeal”.
The report says: “Officers would be required to provide evidence demonstrating why there is no need for the category of hotel proposed in this application, and the most up-to-date evidence available simply does not support this position.”
And the report adds “the proposed hotel bedrooms would help meet the rising need for hotel accommodation in the city”.
Similarly another objection – that it would cause an unacceptable transport impact – has also be challenged. The council report warned that “in the event of an appeal, [this objection] could result in a successful challenge on cost grounds against the council”.
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 storey-story 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.
The “super budget” hotel company, part of the same brand as easyJet and easyGym, advertises rooms “from £24.99” on its website.
More than 150 people objected to the plans when they were first proposed.
Many councillors have also spoken out against the plan. Cllr Nicky Massey was quoted as saying in September last year that there is a link between budget hotels in Newmarket Road and an increase in anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and prostitution.
While at the same meeting a representative for the developer said easyHotel would adopt a “zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour”.
The planning application is recommended subject to conditions – notably, it would require the signing of a legal agreement in relation to a highway mitigation package and a parking monitoring strategy.