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New plan for flats at Bay Hotel
PROPOSALS to turn a Lyme Regis hotel into flats have been revealed – seven years after planners threw out similar plans amid huge public outcry.
Owners of the Bay Hotel on Marine Parade have submitted plans to convert the nine suites into eight residential apartments.
They have blamed falling demand for hotel beds and said continuing to run it as a hotel would be ‘uneconomical, unviable, and unsustainable’.
Tourism and planning leaders in the town insist there is a huge demand for hotel rooms and have criticised moves to axe another hotel in the resort.
The seafront hotel was saved from closure in 2005 when district planners blocked moves by the previous owners to convert it into 10 luxury flats and a gym complex.
That application received more than 60 objections and a 420-signature petition was presented to West Dorset District Council in protest.
Former owners Larry Gibbons and Peter Moles instead turned the old bedrooms into one and two-bedroom holiday suites in 2007, with a Thai restaurant on the ground floor.
Lyme Regis couple Brendon and Lynn Cable and their business partner Eric Bosence bought the hotel and restaurant in 2009.
But they have since suffered ‘diminishing returns and continuing losses’ on their initial investment, according to their current planning application.
In plans submitted last week, their agent Andrew Wilkinson, of Taylor-Wilkinson Ltd, said the owners have been trying to sell the hotel for a year but with no success.
Mr Wilkinson said: “This application arises from falling demand for hotel accommodation resulting in reduced income and uncertainty regarding future viability of the business.”
The Thai restaurant was converted to a European style eatery, which Mr Wilkinson said has ‘slightly improved the situation’.
“The restaurant will be staying open.”
Mr Wilkinson said the business is also hampered due to the hotel’s inaccessibility in the middle of the seafront and parking being 300 metres away in Coombe Street.
The agent said the new development would involve changing the use of the first, second and third floors, with units eight and nine combined to create a single three-bedroom flat.
The Lyme Regis and Charmouth Hotel and Restaurant Association said its members are experiencing high demand for hotel beds.
Chairman Lesley Stone, who also owns the Royal Lion Hotel, said: “It’s a great shame that Lyme could be losing nine more bedrooms, particularly in such a prestigious location.
“There is a demand for hotel bedrooms in Lyme at the right cost.”
Coun Anita Williams, chairman of the town council’s Planning and Highways Committee, said: “Whilst I haven’t seen all the details of the application, I am disappointed at the prospect of potentially losing hotel beds in such a prominent position within Lyme Regis.” A spokesman for the Lyme Regis Society, which aims to safeguard the architectural beauty of the town, said: “The society hasn’t had much time yet to discuss this application but at first glance the arguments do not seem to have changed much.”