Housing plans for Brentwood hotel ‘inappropriate development in green belt’

Plans to develop a Brentwood hotel into dozens of homes has been recommended for refusal by Brentwood Borough Council because of its impact on the green belt.

An application to develop the De Rougemont Manor hotel site to create 45 dwellings will be debated and ultimately decided by the council’s planning committee next week.

Developers Redington Capital say provision of 45 dwellings on the site, including some affordable housing, would be a significant benefit to the borough and therefore amounts to a very special circumstance.

But officers have recommended the plans be refused on the basis on a number of grounds – including that it would be inappropriate development in the green belt, and that it would materially detract from its openness.

A total of 18 homes would be created through the conversion, remodelling and extension of the main hotel building, four from conversion of the stable building and 23 would be new build homes.

The site has an overall area of approximately 3.4 hectares, of which approximately 1.4 hectares is proposed for development, including the conversions, extensions and other new build.

Officers have added the development would represent an encroachment of development in the countryside and would fail to preserve the setting and special character of this rural settlement in the conservation area.

They say the proposal would be harmful to heritage assets.

They say it also fails to provide sufficient affordable housing in the borough and the site is poorly located for sustainable travel.

The main building has its origins in the 1880s, is not listed but is of some local merit.

The main hotel building would be retained with limited external changes. There was a significant fire in 2001 and at that time extensions and alterations were carried out.

The hotel closed due to COVID restrictions in March 2020, reopened in July 2020, closed for a month in November 2020, opened for a fortnight in December 2020 before closing again to reopen in May 2021. It is currently in operation.

A statement to the committee said: “De Rougemont is a non-listed building of merit and the design of the proposed additions with large gabled extensions and expanses of bland brickwork is inappropriate and uncomplimentary to the host building.

“Furthermore, the scale, spread and design of the proposed new build dwellings would fail to protect the setting of this heritage asset or the open rural character of the conservation area.”

It adds: “Other matters that may weigh in favour of the proposal have been considered but collectively they do not clearly outweigh the harm to the green belt or the other harms identified. Therefore, very special circumstances to justify inappropriate development in the green belt do not exist.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter

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