Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Residents fight hotel homes plan

Hythe Imperial Hotel
The hotel owners want to build homes in its grounds (photo by John Davis)

A group of residents in a Kent town have launched a campaign to fight plans to build 96 houses in the 50-acre grounds of an historic seaside hotel.

The owners of the Hythe Imperial in Hythe want to build the homes to help fund repair work on the building.

Their proposals have been backed by Hythe Town Council but opponents of the scheme say it will adversely affect the local area.

GSE Ltd said the development would fund repairs and benefit the town's economy.

The group opposing the plans, the Campaign to Protect the Hythe Imperial Land, was holding a public meeting at the town hall on Tuesday evening.

If we as people of Hythe wish to keep a hotel of the standard of the Imperial in our town we're going to have to accept that certain things are going to have to happen
Caroline Chambers

John Davis, a former manager of the hotel, said: "GSE Limited, a construction company that purchased the hotel, are looking to build 96 homes on an area of pretty much outstanding natural beauty which has been defined by the Shepway local development plan as not for development.

"It does border the Royal Military Canal, a scheduled ancient monument, and 96 houses will greatly affect the canal and its hinterland."

Mr Davis added: "There have been upwards of 100 objectors locally and this has led to the campaign being formed as we do not feel that the local councillors' views reflect that of the local population."

A spokesman for GSE Ltd said: "The Hythe Imperial has suffered as a result of little investment over a number of years and these plans would help to secure this well known and respected local institution.

"The plans, amended in response to consultation feedback prior to submission, have been prepared with due regard given to all relevant national and local planning policies.

"While recognising that there are those who do not support our future vision, there are many in Hythe who do.

"Aside from the direct benefits, the proposals would further help to support the town and its economy."

Caroline Chambers, of the Channel Chamber of Commerce, said: "The Hythe Imperial is a big old hotel, it has high maintenance costs. It costs nearly a million quid a year just to keep the upkeep.

"There is a need for massive investment. If we as people of Hythe wish to keep a hotel of the standard of the Imperial in our town we're going to have to accept that certain things are going to have to happen."



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