03:46PM, Thursday 10 September 2020
A riverside hotel in Maidenhead will not be converted into flats after an appeal from developers hoping to build apartments there was quashed.
In a judgement released yesterday (Wednesday), it was a victory for residents and councillors who had campaigned to keep the Thames Riviera, in Bridge Road, away from developer hands.
The appeal, launched by Galleon Hotels and Arena Racing Company, was heard over two days on July 28 and 29 after the original planning application was rejected by the council in 2018.
Plans included converting the hotel into 15 apartments – and demolishing an annex to build 11 more, with car parking.
But the inspector agreed that the ‘effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the area’ was too great.
Views over the River Thames; preserving the setting of the Grade I-listed Maidenhead Bridge; and a ‘desirability’ to enhance the Maidenhead Riverside Conservation Area were all cited as reasons for dismissal.
“The Thames Riviera Hotel was originally built as four houses. But its historical significance is as one of the hotels which supported Maidenhead riverside as a leisure resort,” the inspector said in his final report.
“The proposal is to cease operation as a hotel and to convert the site to a residential use. This would inevitably result in a dilution of the historical character of the area and a diminution of its historical values.”
The three existing buildings on site comprise the main building, the southern annexe known as Waterside Lodge and, west of the main building, the Guards Club.
None are listed but the main hotel building and the Guards Club building are recognised as ‘non-designated heritage assets’, which means they have a degree of heritage significance.
The inspector added: “Overall, the effect of the proposals on the conservation area are that it would include substantial benefits in providing for repair, making good and continuing use for the two non-designated heritage assets.
“But there would also be a mixture of mild and more noticeable harms to the character of the conservation area, which is a designated heritage asset.”
In a statement, Bob Dulson, chairman of Maidenhead Civic Society, said it would have been a ‘tragedy’ for the town if the appeal had not been dismissed.
“[We are] delighted that the Thames Riviera appeal has been lost,” he said.
“Remodelling the hotel into flats would have been a tragedy for Maidenhead, damaging a precious heritage site, privatising the riverbank and further reducing much needed leisure amenities.
“Well done to those residents’ representatives who challenged the plans. It’s an important victory for conservation and common sense.”
Galleon Hotels and Arena Racing Company have not yet responded to a request for comment.
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