Controversial plans to demolish an “iconic” hotel where a famous aviator lived on the A38 near Bristol and replace it with a 22-home cul-de-sac have been approved.
The outline proposals for Alveston House Hotel were granted permission despite objections from 40 residents and the parish council and the fact only two of the new semi-detached houses would be classed as affordable.
It marks the end of a long-running saga over the “eyesore” building, which is closed, following a series of previous applications including plans to turn it into a retirement village.
A blue plaque marking the former home of famous aeroplane designer and pilot Captain Frank Barnwell will be retained as a condition of the new development between David’s Lane and Thornbury Road in Alveston.
The hotel was originally built as a private family home but later became a school for children with learning disabilities and then an academy for soldiers.
It was also owned by Capt Barnwell who built and flew the first aircraft in Scotland in 1910 and went on to be chief engineer at British Aerospace in Filton.
Alveston Parish Council clerk Graham Smith told South Gloucestershire Council development management committee on Thursday, October 15, that a “great number of residents” had petitioned against the proposal.
He said: “The council and residents are particularly concerned that the parish is on the verge of losing one of its iconic landmarks.
“The council therefore proposes that all the modern additions to this 18th-century house be demolished and the remaining shell converted to affordable apartments.
“The remainder of the land could then be used for housing development as proposed.”
He said more traffic and parked cars could threaten the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, adding that the junction was “busy and often chaotic”.
Severn Vale ward Cllr Matthew Riddle told members: “This application has raised local anger that yet another landmark building in the village will disappear, following on from the demise of the Cross Hands pub.
“It’s the sort of building that when you drive past it on the A38, you know you‘re nearly home.”
A representative of Prestige Retirement Living, which submitted the plans but does not intend to make it a retirement village, said the proposals were for lower density housing than previously and that a hotel generated more traffic than the new homes.
A report to members said: “The proposal is afforded significant weight as it is appropriate development in a sustainable location.
“The development will also result in less than substantial harm on a listed building.
“Overall the application merits outweigh the perceived harms of the development.”
Committee member Cllr Mike Bell said: “Affordable housing should be a priority to us.
“It won’t be homes for the low-paid in Alveston.
“I shall be voting against it.”
Cllr Katie Cooper said: “I’ve got a problem with the social housing.
“The builders would have realised it wouldn’t be viable to build 35 per cent social housing when they bought it, but they bought it anyway knowing they could negotiate on that policy.
“We should discourage that because you’re asking a community to give up a house and a restaurant they cherish and you’re going to give them two affordable houses.
“Our policy is 35 per cent, and to have it go down to less than 10 per cent is not supportable.”
But Cllr Brian Hopkinson said: “I can’t see any problems with parking or access and it produces some new homes for our area.
“Alveston is quite a big development. It’s not just a village, it’s an estate as far as I’m concerned.
“These homes will be appreciated by a lot of people wanting to stay in the area.”
Cllr Ernie Brown said: “There is already a small development being built next door, and as it has already been agreed this building will be demolished, something has to take its place.
“We need houses and this development would fit the bill.”
Cllr Judy Adams said the area would be improved if the hotel was demolished.
Members agreed with officers’ recommendation to grant permission by five votes to two, with two abstentions.