Investment group lodges appeal after Min hospital hotel plans refused

A Singaporean investment group has lodged an appeal after its plans to turn a Bath hospital into a luxury hotel were refused.

The Min in Bath | Photo © The Fragrance Group

The Fragrance Group has threatened to go to the Planning Inspectorate again if Bath and North East Somerset Council also rejects its revised scheme for the grade II*-listed former Royal Mineral Water Hospital.

Councillors said plans for a 164-bedroom hotel would overdevelop the site and make life in the neighbouring properties “almost untenable”.

In its appeal documents, Fragrance Group said their claims were not well-founded and neighbours would not suffer significant harm in terms of loss of light.

Planning committee members also criticised the failure to boost biodiversity. The developer said the arguments were “baseless and unjustified” because the council’s ecologist did not object, and it had committed to soft landscaping onsite and tree planting elsewhere.

Its representatives said: “The appeal application was formulated over a two-year period in close consultation with the local planning authority, Historic England and other stakeholders.

“The principle of the proposed hotel use has been agreed as the optimum viable use by the principal parties.

“We can confirm that the appellant is committed to implement either appeal scheme, or the second application scheme that has been submitted in parallel with the planning appeal.”

The Fragrance Group bought the former hospital in 2018 for £21.5million and said it would invest £40million in the project.

The appeal documents said it was carrying out maintenance and heating the building in the winter but that was not sustainable in the longer term, adding: “The appellant submits that it is strongly in the public interest that the vacant building, which occupies a prominent city centre site, is brought back into beneficial use.

“A prolonged period of vacancy will be damaging to the economy of Bath’s city centre in terms of loss of opportunity arising from site-specific economic activity, as well as the damaging effect of prolonged vacancy on business and investment confidence in Bath.”

B&NES Council is yet to respond to the appeal or consider Fragrance Group’s revised application for a 160-bed hotel, which says it has taken a new design approach, reduced the scale and mass of the extension, addressed residential amenity issues and improved biodiversity.

The revised proposals have been met with more than 460 objections, more than double that for the previous scheme, although the influential Bath Preservation Trust is now in support.

The developer said if the new plans are refused, it will seek to join the appeals together.

Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter

Bath Echo