A new Premier Inn hotel could open in the city centre late next year despite claims it will be “ugly” and unsuitable for the location.
An application for the 126 bed hotel to replace the former Bridge Street Police Station was comfortably approved by Peterborough City Council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday, but only after one of its members launched a stinging attack on the plans.
Conservative Cllr Lucia Serluca told her fellow committee members: “Visually this is ugly.
“It’s a Premier Inn hotel and it will be sat in a prime location in the centre of the town, down the road from Fletton Quays where we’ve invested lots of money opening a beautiful Hilton hotel.
“I just do not think it’s the right place.
“Being a born and bred Peterborian I do not want to be part of an application that’s going to stick a Premier Inn in the gateway of Peterborough.”
Cllr Serluca also claimed the committee had been “held to ransom” after John Dadge, agent for the application, had warned that Premier Inn had timetabled for construction of the three-storey building to begin later this year, with completion expected at the end of 2019.
Mr Dadge added: “With no planning permission you could be left with a blot on the landscape. So I guess timing is of the essence. There are no objections from any of the statutory consultees.”
However, Liberal Democrat committee member Cllr Christian Hogg said: “I felt like we were being held to ransom.
“You have to make a decision or have this carbuncle in the city for some time to come.”
But support for the scheme was vocalised by Cllr Peter Hiller, committee member and cabinet member for planning, who said the developers were being “realistic” with their timings, and that the site was not the only “gateway” in Peterborough.
He added: “I actually think that’s quite an attractive building.
“I think it’s a good development. The design is good and the concept is good and I think it will be extremely well used.”
Fellow Conservative member Cllr Graham Casey agreed about the building design, and also suggested visitors to the neighbouring Key Theatre will want to use the hotel.
Earlier in the meeting, Kem Mehmed from the Peterborough Civic Society, argued for the application to be altered to align traffic travelling north and south at Town Bridge, rather than have the roads separated by the old police station as they are currently.
Calling for the application to be deferred so a scheme to align the road could be prepared, Mr Mehmed said the “great” benefits would include making crossing the road easier and removing traffic from one side of the hotel.
However, council head of development and construction Nick Harding told the meeting: “It’s a good suggestion, but we have to mindful this is not the application before the committee.”
Cllr Hiller argued that the council did not have the money for the project, but Mr Mehmed said money had been spent - or funding received - for other road schemes, including on Bourges Boulevard.
“The benefits would be a feather in your cap,” he added:
Labour committee member Cllr Shaz Nawaz said: “Premier Inn is a good business, will create further jobs and contribute towards the prosperity of the city.”
Concerns were also raised about pedestrian access to the hotel amid suggestions visitors with luggage will try and cross in front of traffic.
Conservative Cllr Brian Rush had an amendment accepted which requires the developers to submit measures to deter pedestrians from crossing Bridge Street at locations other than at the formal crossing point.