Rick Stein guest house in the High Street gets go ahead from Wiltshire Council

Written by Tony Millett on .

Wiltshire Council have given planning permission (November 8) to turn the former Smiths Gore estate agents building into a four room Rick Stein guest house with a bar on the ground floor - the permission also allows a doorway to be reopened between No 42 and the Rick Stein restaurant at 42A.

There were some doubts about the parking arrangements behind No 42 and on Monday (November 7) the application was changed to give three rather than four parking spaces behind the building.  Any driver in the guest house's fourth room will probably have to park on the High Street unless there is a free space behind 42A.

Use of the ground floor bar in the guest house has been limited to between 9.00am and half-past midnight Monday-Saturday and between 9.00am and midnight on Sundays.  And, taking note of objections from nearby residents, a limit is being imposed on the volume of any live or recorded music.

This bar will not only be for people staying in the guest house rooms or eating at the restaurant.  The permission document states:  "There is no objection to the wider use of the bar by members of the public."

The complaint from a resident in Old Lion Court that the planning application was based on out of date plans was waved aside by the case officer.

The planning application was primarily for change of use from professional service use  (A2 use - in the jargon) mainly to hotel and guest house use (C1 use.)   The case officer's report points out that it is fixed policy to maintain ground floor premises in the High Street as shops (A1).  There is a very convenient let out:

"However, exceptions to this approach are allowed where the use is deemed to have a positive contribution to the vitality and viability of the centre."

"In this case, there is a lack of tourist accommodation in the town centre of Marlborough and therefore, the introduction of further accommodation, albeit limited to just 4 rooms, would be making a positive contribution to the town centre, widening the choice of guest house accommodation in the interests of the vitality and viability of Marlborough’s tourism potential."

"This lack of accommodation demonstrated by the applicants is identified as an issue within Core Policy 14 of the [Wiltshire Core Strategy] where it talks at para 5.78 about Marlborough and its surrounds not quite realising its full tourism potential. Therefore, it can be argued that there is an element of compliance with this policy."

Marlborough.News understands that this was not an argument given weight when planners agreed that the Ivy House Hotel should cease to be a hotel and so cease to support 'Marlborough's tourism potential'.

The officer's report states that opening - or probably re-opening - a door between the two buildings will have no impact on the premises' listed building status.

Finally, the Rick Stein organisation is advised that this development may bring a Community Infrastructure Levy charge - at £70 per square metre.  It is not clear from the documents whether Wiltshire Council will proceed with this levy charge.