Windsor hotel described as 'parking the Death Star in a Dickens novel' approved after appeal

Shay Bottomley

A new 50-bedroom hotel looks set to be built in St Leonards Road in Windsor following an appeal by the applicants after proposals were rejected by councillors in 2019.

At a Windsor Area Development Management Panel meeting in December 2019, councillors unanimously refused the application to build the four-storey structure at a former petrol station in St. Leonards Road.

Concerns over the 11-metre-tall hotel’s suitability – given the character of the area and lack of parking spaces for staff – led to its original refusal.

At the meeting, Cllr Amy Tisi (Lib Dem, Clewer East) said: “How on earth is this supposed to be Victorian village-style? That’s like parking the Death Star in a Dickens novel.”

Cllr Christine Bateson (Con, Sunningdale and Cheapside) added that the building would be more suited to a different location, with Cllr Julian Sharpe (Con, Ascot and Sunninghill) asking: “Where on earth are the staff going to put their cars?”

However, following an appeal by Dr C Marsden-Huggins and a site visit by a planning inspector, the application has now been approved.

The inspector, P D Sedgwick, stated ‘substantial weight’ had been given to the Windsor Neighbourhood Development Plan, approved at a referendum after the council decision, and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Wide Design Guide SPD (2020).

On reasons for overturning the original decision, the inspector said: “Although the area is categorised as ‘Victorian Village’ in the RBWM townscape assessment, the Victorian housing on the approach to the site is surrounded by more modern housing.

“The Imperial Court flats opposite it define the site’s context as much as development either side of it.

“As such, Victorian era development does not define the character of the area around the appeal site.”

The inspector added that the application would not appear cramped, overly dominant and would not harm the character and appearance of the area.

Prior to the planning panel, there had been concerns over the removal of trees and whether any replacements would survive long-term.

But the inspector said: “All of [the trees identified for removal in the appellant’s Aboricultural Impact Assessment] were assessed as being of low quality generally and of low amenity value.

“The council has not disputed that assessment.”

Construction can now begin on the hotel, subject to conditions.

The full decision can be found here:

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