Visitor Accommodation Draft Supplementary Planning Document

Ended on the 31st January 2011
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(1) Introduction

1. The tourist industry is an important component of the local economy in Hastings. 6.8% of people were employed in the accommodation and food service sector in 2009, rising from 6% in 2007.Tourism contributes £211m to the local economy and supports an estimated 4850 jobs (3550 Full Time Equivalents). (Source: Tourism South East)

2. Staying visitors are a particularly important element of the tourist economy. In 2008 some 395,000 overnight visitors spent £71.4 m in the town, compared to 2.7m day visitors spending just £82.4m, a difference in spend of £180 per head for staying visitors compared to £30 per head for day visitors (Source : Tourism South East). The tourism sector as a whole has stagnated in terms of the number of staying visitors, and there is a lack of quality visitor accommodation. The town currently has 1000 serviced visitor bed spaces, not all of a good quality, compared with a total of 8000 in 1951. This represents a low base compared with many of Hastings’ competitors. Visitor accommodation continues to be lost, although in the past 5 years some very good quality boutique hotels have opened.

3. The provision of new visitor accommodation and the maintenance and, where necessary, improvement of existing accommodation are therefore of key importance to the town The aim is to encourage more all year round short stay visitors with a higher spending power, leading to the provision of permanent jobs in the tourist sector and contributing to the regeneration of the town. The provision of new visitor attractions, such as the Jerwood Gallery can provide the incentive towards achieving this aim.

Development Plan Background

4. The Hastings Local Plan 2004 provides the statutory planning framework for Hastings. There are two policies T3 and T4 in the Plan relating to tourist accommodation. These were saved by virtue of a Direction made by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on the 24th September 2007 under paragraph 1(3) of Schedule 8 to the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 :-

POLICY T3

Hotels and Guest Houses – Serviced Accommodation

The Borough Council will grant planning permission for new and enhanced serviced accommodation (hotels and guest houses), including bed and breakfast establishments on the seafront. Alternative locations will be considered if they are acceptable on amenity grounds and are suitably accessible to visitors to the town.

POLICY T4

Changes of use of Hotels and Guest Houses

Where an application for change of use of hotels and guest houses is made it will only be granted planning permission where:

  1. Detailed evidence can be provided that the building is no longer viable as visitor accommodation; and

  2. The proposal would result in a major upgrade of the structural condition of the building.

5. The Council’s Local Development Framework Core Strategy is at present being prepared. Informal consultation is planned for summer of 2011. It will reaffirm the visitor accommodation policies in the Local Plan.

The Purpose and objectives of this Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)

6. The overarching objective of the SPD is to secure the proper implementation of Policy T4 of the adopted Hastings Local Plan 2004. This is supported by two primary objectives:-

  1. To ensure an adequate supply of visitor accommodation within Hastings.

  2. To protect existing premises for use as hotels and guest houses where there is a good prospect of the use continuing.

7. The Council has not provided further advice since the adoption of the Local Plan as to what “detailed evidence” it will require applicants for a change of use of a hotel or guest house to provide in order to satisfy sub-clause (a) of Policy T4 of the Hastings Local Plan 2004. This has led to uncertainty on the part of applicants and has created some delay in the processing of applications, where further information has had to be sought. The purpose of this SPD is therefore to set out in some detail the evidence that the Council will require to be submitted to support an application for a change of use of a hotel or guest house.

(1) Which establishments are included?

8. This SPD specifically relates to hotels and guest houses, not to smaller bed and breakfast establishments. For example, if you use one or two rooms in your house for guests and they share facilities with your family, you would not be required to submit evidence for a change of use. If, however, you have three or more rooms for guests, with some or all of their own facilities (en-suite bathrooms, separate dining room or lounge) you would be classed as a guest house and come within the scope of the SPD. Each case is, however considered on its merits and, if you are in any doubt, you are advised to contact the Council’s planning helpline on 01424 451090, who would be pleased to assist.

What evidence will be required?

9. In February 2009 consultants Hotel Solutions presented a final report to the Borough Council on “Retaining Hotels and Guest houses in Hastings” (web link: www.hastings.gov.uk/ldf/resources.aspx#bak). They recommended that a “Tourist Accommodation Retention Toolkit” set out in Tourism South East’s “Here to Stay” Guidance should be the starting point for preparing this SPD. The detailed list of evidence that the Council will require to accompany applications for changes of use of hotels and guesthouses is set out in Appendix A. It is based on the document referred to above, adapted for the particular circumstances of Hastings.

(1) 10. The requirement to submit the evidence set out in Appendix A, will apply to the town as a whole, although the Council’s priority areas for the retention of visitor accommodation are the Seafront, the Old Town, the Town Centre and the main arterial roads coming into the town. The Council does however recognise that the information required may be onerous for smaller establishments to provide. Therefore hotels and guest houses with 6 or less visitor bed spaces will only be required to provide the evidence required in Appendix B.

When is the evidence required?

11. Planning applications for changes of use of hotels and guest houses should be accompanied by the evidence required in Appendix A. Applicants should respond to all items. Failure to do so could lead to the application not being accepted by the Council for registration. If an applicant is not able to provide evidence on a particular item or considers that an item is not relevant to the application, they should provide their detailed reasons for this in writing at the time of submitting the application.

What will be done with the evidence?

(1) 12. The Council’s Head of Communications and Marketing will assess the evidence accompanying the application and will provide a written report to the planning officer dealing with the application. In exceptional circumstances the Council may seek external advice.

Status of this Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)

13. Once adopted following formal public consultation, this SPD will become a material consideration to be taken into account in determining planning applications. Planning Inspectors will also have regard to it in deciding appeals against refusals of planning permission.

Consultation

14. Informal consultation has been undertaken with a limited number of interested organisations. Tourism South East considers that the level and type of evidence to be required is appropriate. Hastings Hoteliers Association believes that the situation has stabilised. The SPD is no longer required and economic forces should be allowed to determine what happens. The Association can understand the need to protect bed spaces in large establishments but do not believe that controls are necessary or desirable for smaller mainly family businesses. The list of evidence is too prescriptive and should be indicative of what might be submitted as viability evidence. In response to the Association’s comments the lesser evidence requirement for establishments with 6 or less bed spaces has been introduced.

Further Information

15. If you require further information about this Document please write to:

Planning Policy Regeneration,
Homes and Communities Directorate
Aquila House
Breeds Place
Hastings
East Sussex
TN34 3UY

Telephone: 01424 45109

Fax: 01424 783305

or E-mail: fplanning@hastings.gov.uk

Telephone: 01424 451098

Fax: 01424 783305

or E-mail: fplanning@hastings.gov.uk

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