Residents mount legal challenge to easyHotel plans for Cambridge
A legal challenge is being launched against controversial plans for a third large-scale budget hotel off Newmarket Road in Cambridge.
The city council’s planning committee voted unanimously to reject the easyHotel application in June last year, but the d ecision was reversed in September under a special ‘adjourned decision protocol’ (ADP) process with a split vote and the chair’s casting vote proving decisive.
The Riverside Area Residents’ Association is now seeking a Judicial Review of the planning consent, which was signed off last month by Stephen Kelly, who heads up the shared planning service for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire.
The proposal would demolish a furniture shop on the corner of a residential street and replace it with a 90 micro-bed budget hotel with no car park and no facilities for guests to eat or socialise. Room prices could start at £24.99 for a night.
Residents and local Abbey ward councillors have consistently challenged the plans for another budget hotel on a site close to two larger hotels as unsustainable over-development which runs counter to national guidance and the council’s own planning policies.
They claim the ADP process was flawed due to failures and omissions in the advice to councillors, including the report that advised councillors to reverse their original unanimous vote to reject the plans. Residents also say that promises were broken on consultation and their detailed evidence was ignored. The council has yet to receive the legal papers.
Mr Kelly told the Cambridge Independent: “The council has been made aware that a legal challenge has been made against a recently issued planning permission for a new hotel on Newmarket Road.
“This application was considered by the planning committee at its meetings in June and September last year. We have not yet received the papers from the court but will review the grounds for the challenge, and respond accordingly, once we have taken appropriate legal advice.”
In a draft drawn up by the residents and seen by the Cambridge Independent, they say: “Residents were denied a voice in the ADP process which overturned the original refusal. Subsequent promises to return the application to committee and to consult on measures to mitigate local impact before issuing the formal consent were made and broken.
“We offered to accept the final decision of the committee if members were allowed to hear our evidence, but by issuing the consent the planning service has left us with no alternative but to take legal action.
“We are concerned that our experience may be indicative of much deeper problems in the way the shared planning function is operating.”
Once received, the council must lodge any response with the court by the beginning of September. The court will then decide whether there are grounds for a full High Court review, which could lead to the consent being quashed.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter for a digest of the latest news, sport, features, business and science direct to your inbox.