I know that the hotel business is said to be one of the few that is still doing well in the current poor economic conditions, but does Swindon town centre really need another 118 hotel rooms? That’s in addition to the 134 Holiday Inn Express and 229 Jurys Inn rooms opened in recent years. I ask because a planning application has just been submitted to convert the former Paragon Laundry on Aylesbury Street into a 118 room hotel. The application is full of the usual developer drivel about designing something that fits in with the local surroundings, even when the drawings show that it does no such thing. To quote from the design statement,
The massing of the proposed buildings relates not only to the immediate context but the wider Town Centre context.
In other words, the height of the hotel would completely dwarf nearby buildings: even the relatively new flats on Wellington Street are not as tall.
The middle and tall part of the building has been broken up into four main sections that correspond to the Victorian “rythm” (sic) of terraced houses.
If anyone can find nearby some six storey Victorian terraces without any doors and virtually no windows at ground floor level, I’d be very surprised.
The hotel will have only 14 car-parking places, apparently with agreement of council officers. The plan also says that ‘Public parking provision will be increased along Aylesbury Street’, that ‘In agreement with SBC, a drop off bay is proposed on Station Road’ but then contradictorily ‘the proposed redevelopment… will have no impact on the operation of the adjacent highway network.’ Given the frequent traffic queues in Station Road outside the proposed development, that seems highly unlikely.
The documents and drawings that accompany the proposal show it branded as a Hamptons hotel, part of the Hilton chain, though the status of their involvement is unclear from the application.
As yet another developer jumps on the hotel-building bandwagon, it’s difficult not to believe that in a few years time Swindon will have as big a surplus of hotel rooms as it currently has of flats apartments for rent.