EasyHotel in Summertown

We urge refusal of the planning application

11 December 2017

EasyHotel has submitted a planning application (ref: 17/02832/FUL) to build a 180-bed hotel in Summertown, specifically at 276 – 280 Banbury Road. The existing retail, office and residential properties on the site would be demolished, replaced with a four-storey building with retail units at street level and with the hotel forming the upper three storeys.

We have serious problems with this proposal and have submitted our comments to the City Council. What follows is a summary; you can read our full response here.

Housing

Oxford has a chronic housing shortage. The City’s emerging Local Plan and the Summertown St Margaret’s Neighbourhood Plan which is in preparation both earmark this site for retail and housing. Even though at least five residential properties would be demolished, this site could make a significant contribution to meeting housing needs if it was developed with a substantial net housing gain.

A hotel in Summertown

Summertown is the heart of a vibrant residential neighbourhood. Its character would be damaged by the introduction of a large transient population of non-residents.

Beyond Summertown centre the northern suburbs already have a number of hotels. There are also many smaller hotels/B&Bs which provide much more accommodation. Whether or not Oxford needs more hotel rooms, putting what would be the largest hotel in the area in the middle of Summertown would be too damaging to the local area.

Traffic and parking

It is inevitable that most guests would arrive and leave by car or taxi, adding a large number of journeys to the Banbury Road. A hotel of this size will need servicing and deliveries, inevitably mostly by HGVs. Such an increase in traffic of this nature would have a serious effect on the character of the neighbourhood, on congestion and on air quality.

Although the application proposes minimal official parking it is also inevitable that guests will need to park in the area, potentially for several days. Spaces in the current controlled parking zone are already full; non-resident spaces are for 2 or 3 hours only.

There are other places where parking is allowed for up to 2 or 3 hours, typically between 0800 and 1830. This allows short-stay parking for non-residents. However, the combination of 2 or 3 hour parking and unrestricted overnight parking effectively allows parking from 1530 to 1100 the following day – a period which lines up very conveniently with hotel check-in and check-out times. Such parking by hotel guests would be a serious local inconvenience.

Additionally there would be increased pressure on the public car parks at Diamond Place and elsewhere, which are not currently designed to cater for the numbers a 180-bed hotel is likely to generate.

Design details

For a ‘cycle city’ such as Oxford, cycle parking provision is absurdly low. Even so, there is no detail about the layout and access of the cycle parking. There would need to be spaces for staff working in the hotel and the shops, guests, visitors and customers.

There is also a problem with the noise from the proposed development, most probably from mechanical ventilation plant. This is a serious matter which has not been properly covered in the application.

Summary

We object to this proposal because:

  • it fails to comply with current and emerging policies on housing, and the use of this site;
  • it is an inappropriate use for this location;
  • it is likely to harm the character of the neighbourhood;
  • the traffic impact assessment is inadequate;
  • it would have an adverse effect on congestion, traffic nuisance and air quality;
  • it would have detrimental effects on both on-street and public car parking provision in the neighbourhood, and
  • detrimental effects on residential amenity and commercial activity;
  • the cycle parking provision and details are inadequate;
  • there are no details of plant installations and their effect on the appearance of the building and on noise generation;
  • the illustrations of how the actual building is likely to look are implausible.

We urge refusal on these grounds.