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DRASTICALLY cutting staff parking by building a new hotel at Southend Airport is not a big enough reason to refuse permission, say planning officers.
The proposal, for a part-five-part-six-storey hotel to the west of the existing Holiday Inn, would also be built on a car park which is used as an overspill for the hotel, as well as for airport staff members.
The Highways department have raised concerns that under the plans, from London Southend Airport Company, the number of parking spaces would be cut from 86 to just 45.
But planning officers insist this is not a big enough reason to refuse planning permission for the 132-bedroom hotel.
They explain in a report that “in this instance” the limited parking is “acceptable” because the majority of the people using the new hotel are expected to use public transport to get there.
Furthermore, the airport has told the council that the lost spaces could be made up for in the long stay car parking area which has a spare capacity of at least 30 per cent at peak times.
The confidence is not shared by council’s Highways department, which has objected to the plans over the parking.
It states: “The loss of airport staff parking would be detrimental and has not been sufficiently justified.
“The provision of parking on site for the proposed hotel use, although in line with policy, would increase traffic and parking needs.
“No appropriate mitigation measures, such as a contribution for a controlled parking zone, have been put forward by the applicant.”
The department added: “It would not cover the parking required by employees who may need to travel to and from the site at unsociable hours when public transport is less frequent.”
Parking concerns are also shared by residents.
The council has received objections from 56 people and their biggest issues are linked to the increase in traffic.
Residents say the existing infrastructure surrounding the site is already stretched to breaking point, including parking, which is already a problem in the area. They also fear it will drive an expansion of the airport which will mean even more cars on the road and potentially more noise from aircraft.
Other issues raised by the residents include that the hotel would lead to the area being over-developed and it would overlook neighbouring properties.
Council officers dismissed these issues, explaining that they are not “reasons for recommending refusal of the planning application”.