A 30 BEDROOM extension to a luxury Chester hotel has been described as a barrack block.
The extension has permission at Hoole Hall where a £23m refurbishment of the 18th century manor has transformed the former three star hotel.
Put forward by Hoole Hall Country Club and Spa, the three storey development at the 105 bed hotel, designed by Liverpool based architects Falconer Chester Hall, is said to match the architectural style of an earlier 1980s extension.
It will appear as a natural extension to the hotel and will have little effect on the Green Belt due to its design and careful positioning at the rear of the hall, partly on a walled garden, according to a report.
Objections have been raised by the city's conservation area advisory committee which believes the extent and design of the extension will have an adverse effect on the original grade two listed family country house.
Similar views are expressed by conservation officers at the City Council due to the substantial amount of extension which has already taken place at Hoole Hall and the design of the scheme which they believe will further fail to protect its setting.
Mickle Trafford and District Parish Council did not object providing there would not be undue inconvenience to neighbours and the parish’s village design statement was taken into account.
The hall was converted into a hotel in 1983, Chester's planning board was told.
Since it was purchased by new owners in 2007, extensive refurbishment has been carried out to improve the quality of the accommodation and services to a standard comparable to other high quality four and five star hotels in Chester district.
Councillors heard that every effort has been made to limit the effect of the extension on the green belt through its design and careful positioning.
An assessment has revealed that quality hotel accommodation in Chester is “particularly limited”.
Describing the 1980s bedroom block as “functional” with “little architectural merit”, planning officers argue that more recent planning permissions, including reinstating the walled garden and an area of lawn, have reduced the detrimental effect.
The walled garden had remained undiscovered and neglected until recently and its reinstatement is said to be “a significant bonus” to the appearance of the hotel complex.
Recommending the application should be approved, planning officers argued the extension will not cause unacceptable harm to the special architectural or historic features of Hoole Hall and will preserve its integrity as a grade two listed building.
Moving permission, city centre councillor Gwyn Cooper (Lab, City & St Anne's) told the board: “The extension will marry in with what is there and will not introduce another architectural style.
“It will not be seen from the main road.”
She was seconded by deputy chairman Cllr Barbara Roberts (Con, Tarvin) who suggested: “It is very important we let this application go ahead.
“We need extra hotel rooms in Chester.”
Labour planning spokesperson Cllr Sandra Rudd (College) indicated, however, she was not impressed.
“We should not be adding 1980s design to an existing 80s building. It looks like a barrack block,” she suggested.
Cllr Rudd argued the plans should be rejected.
After board chairman Cllr Andrew Storrar (Con, Saughall) had commented “there are very few reasons for refusing in the style it is proposed” councillors agreed on a 12-1 vote the extension should have permission.