Linton Lodge Hotel 11-13 Linton Road Oxford Oxfordshire OX2 6UJ

17 March 2019

Demolition of the former conference block (accessed from Charlbury Road) and replacement with new hotel accommodation, extensions to the rear of hotel and 1970s wing and internal reconfiguration to provide a total of 33 hotel bedrooms and associated improvements to the existing hotel, including the removal of the tarmac forecourt, landscaping across the site, a remodelled front porch and associated works.

The previous application (in 2016) for alterations to this property was refused on the following grounds:

The proposal fails to meet the location criteria of development plan policy TA4 not being located within any of the areas identified by that policy.

Further it would cause harm to the character and appearance of the North Oxford Conservation Area (in particular the treatment of the new entrance and the impact of the rear extension upon the existing sunken garden) contrary to development plan policy HE7 this harm being accorded considerable weight and attention as required by section 72 of the Town and Country Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 and paragraphs 131 and 132 of the NPPF, the Council further being of the view that such harm (albeit less than substantial within the meaning of the NPPF) is not outweighed by public benefits of the proposal as advised by Paragraph 134 of the NPPF or clearly and convincingly justified as required by paragraph 132 of the NPPF. That same harm also results in contravention of development plan policies CP1, CP6, CP8 and CS18. These conclusions lead to the overall conclusion that the proposal is contrary to the development plan and other material considerations do not indicate that permission should nevertheless be granted the principal other material consideration being the combined effect of paragraphs 131, 132 and 134 of the NPPF.

Policy TA.4 (Tourist Accommodation) of the current Local Plan states:

Planning permission will be granted for development that maintains, strengthens and diversifies the range of short-stay accommodation subject to the following criteria:

  1. it is located on the following roads into Oxford: Abingdon Road, Banbury Road, Botley Road, Cherwell Drive / Marston Ferry Road, Cowley Road / Oxford Road, Church Cowley Road, Headley Way, Henley Avenue, Hollow Way, Iffley Road, London Road, Marston Road, Old Road, Rose Hill, The Slade, Windmill Road, Woodstock Road; or in the City centre;
  2. it is acceptable in terms of access, parking, highway safety, traffic generation, pedestrian and cycle movements
  3. part of the existing dwelling is retained for residential use; and
  4. it will not result in an unacceptable level of noise and disturbance to nearby residents.

Policy V5 (Sustainable tourism) of the emerging Local Plan 2036 states:

Planning permission will only be granted for development of holiday and other short stay accommodation in the following locations: in the City Centre, in District Centres, on sites allocated for that purpose, and on Oxford’s main arterial roads where there is frequent and direct public transport to the city centre33. Proposals for short stay accommodation must also meet all the following criteria:

  1. a) it is acceptable in terms of access, parking, highway safety, traffic generation, pedestrian and cycle movements
  2. b) there is no loss of residential dwelling; and
  3. c) it will not result in an unacceptable level of noise and disturbance to nearby residents.

The enlargement from 70 bedrooms to 89 in 2012 amounted to a 24% increase in the scale of commercial accommodation operations. The further increase now proposed, from the current room count of 89, through the addition of 33 new rooms, to a new total of 122 rooms, constitutes a further increase of 38%. Thus, if approved, there would be an increase from 70 to 122 rooms within the space of 7 years – a 74% increase. Such an increase in commercial operations at this site is likely to be inimical to the “preservation or enhancement” of, or the making of a “positive contribution” to the special residential character of the immediate neighbourhood, as well as the North Oxford Victorian Suburb Conservation Area in which it falls.

Furthermore, the site of this establishment is not within the condition a) of Policy TA4, cited above, nor that of Policy V5. Both these policies make it clear that this is not a site considered appropriate for hotel development at all. The established use in no way justifies its enlargement to 122 bedrooms – effectively creating one of Oxford’s larger hotels. A further relevant issue is the recent consent granted for the development of a 140-bedroom hotel within 1km of this site, in the Summertown Local Centre. There is no planning justification in concentrating so much hotel accommodation within this ward, or in this area of the city.

The increase in business activity (amounting to 74% since 2012), which is, of course, the objective of the proposal, is inconsistent with other conditions of these policies, relating to access, parking, highway safety, traffic generation, pedestrian and cycle movements, as well as noise and disturbance of nearby residents.

Although enhanced cycle parking facilities are proposed, it is not credible that a significant number of clients will use this mode, and no evidence has been exhibited to suggest that this might be the case. Public transport facilities are insufficiently close to be convenient to visitors with luggage, or groups. The dramatic increase in business activities is thus certain to result in proportional increases in car, taxi and coach traffic, and parking for the latter is a serious concern. There is already provision for coach parking in the adjacent roads for services associated with the four local schools as well as Linton Lodge Hotel, which is used to capacity, and there is anecdotal evidence that this includes overnight stays. This is already detrimental to the character of the area, and any increase in the number of coaches using these roads and this provision can only exacerbate the situation – cause significant harm rather than “preserving or enhancing” or making a “positive contribution” to the character of the neighbourhood, as is required of any new development within the Conservation Area.

The increase in traffic is also likely to increase accident risks; Charlbury Road is a key part of National Cycle Network Route 51, as well as Oxford City Cycle Route 1. It is thus designated as a primary cycling artery, and is very heavily used as such (Cherwell School, with a student count of nearly 2,000, is reputed to have the greatest proportion of cycling students of any school in the UK). The opening of the new Oxford Parkway station at Water Eaton, which is served by Route 51, has generated an increased flow of cycle traffic. Not only do these factors make any development which increases motor traffic unacceptable in terms of safety risk, but such an increase in risk (and perception thereof), is likely to discourage adoption of cycling as a preferred travel mode, contrary to national, County Council and City Council objectives.

Linton and Charlbury Roads are also busy with pedestrians, especially school children. These roads, together with Northmoor Road form the principal routes between Senior and Junior Departments of Oxford High School, and students are obliged to cross these roads. Increased traffic flows, and increased numbers of parked cars and coaches would not be conducive to minimisation of risk to the safe passage of groups.

A further factor is that Linton Road is already host to another hotel (Parklands); whilst this occupies a location conforming to the planning policies cited above, the implications of the incremental development of such commercial operations within this locality of the Conservation Area must be considered.

The current proposals are thus in contravention of the requirements of the NPPF in regard to the importance of Conservation Areas, and, specifically, in contravention of policy TA4 of the current Local Plan, and V5 of the emerging Local Plan 2036. The application should thus be refused.