Christ Church have put in a planning application to replace the Westgate Hotel with a new hotel which is about three or four times the size. The existing convenience store (opposite Mick's Café) will be replaced by a new shop opening onto Mill Street which is less than half the size.
The same planning application involves the demolition of the River Hotel and its replacement by seventeen two bedroom flats. As with the Westgate Hotel, the new building will have considerably more volume and larger footprint than the existing one.
The planning regulations change during the next year and will make the "change of use" implicit in these applications less easy to achieve. We might speculate that Christ Church could be trying to slip these two applications in as one under the current rules. (The lease on the River Hotel doesn't revert until 2006 or 2007.) Christ Church say that they are putting both these applications in as one so that the loss of hotel space in one is cancelled out by the increase in the other.
There will be no allocation of WO parking permits to the new flats. Depending on your point of view, this will (a) reduce the number of cars in West Oxford, or (b) increase the number of cars chasing the same number of spaces.
The River Hotel currently has 20 spaces, and uses them all, but there will (I think) be only 11 for the new hotel. The impact of this will be as for residential permits (see above).
The existing convenience store is a critical facility because it is the only place open at odd hours in the district. It will not be viable in the new premises because of the reduced size. Moving the entrance to Mill Street will reduce the passing trade and make it even less viable. This is particularly aggravating given that the hotel building which hosts it will double in size.
Nobody is going to care about the Westgate Hotel, but the River Hotel has an interesting history and is actually the finest domestic building between the station and North Hinksey Manor. It would look a lot better were it not badly run down and had not been re-roofed in the wrong materials. We have been assured that Christ Church have considered renovating the building but commercial considerations (i.e. doubling the internal square footage) clearly point to a demolition and rebuild.
There are a limited number of things that the planning committee are allowed to take into account when determining the fate of this application. As I understand it these seem to be limited to:
10 St Ebbe's Street
Quoting reference 04/01996/FUL
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