Amport Parish Council – Comments on Amport House Planning Application by Another Place

Amport Parish Council (APC) has considered the application for Planning Permission for the redevelopment of Amport House.  APC held a meeting last week, in which various views were expressed, but APC agrees that the principle of redevelopment is sound and supports it. APC believes that the new hotel will prove an asset to the community, including in terms of employment.

There were a number of areas of concern raised by members of the parish that deserve additional consideration. These are identified under headings below.

Transport Statement

APC considers that the Transport Statement is weak and inadequate.  We do not propose to comment on every individual weakness but note that it proceeds on very questionable assertions on the traffic movements to the former MOD site, and then seeks to draw analogies from them.

Generally, during operations by the MOD, there were 25 to 45 people attending the meetings and conferences. Typically, guests arrived on a Monday morning and left at midday on Wednesday, and then another group would arrive on Wednesday afternoon and leave Friday by 4pm. In recent years, Amport House was only used for about 6 weekends a year, some were family retreats, and some were large evening galas. The maximum attendance was 75 people. Apart from 5 staff leaving at 8. 30 pm, there was no movement after 6 pm. The House was completely closed for 2 weeks over Christmas, on all major holidays and Bank Holidays, and for several weeks during the summer months. Internal weddings were unusual. In recent years, there were a couple of outside BBQs for approximately 30 people.

In contrast, the hotel will have guests on a 24/7 basis. Further, there will be traffic visiting the swim club, the restaurants, and the kids’ zone. The application asserts that 80-90 (FTE) staff will be required, much more than the MOD had.  MOD had approximately twenty-two staff (at most) per day when busy over two shifts. One member of staff lived on the premises, two walked to work, and cleaning staff arrived in a van. In contrast, the Hotel will need four or five times that number per days, covering three shifts.

As of yet we have not seen the seating capacity of the two restaurants and bar, also the plans do not reflect outside restaurant seating which during the summer months will be popular. In addition to lunch and dinner, there will be a morning coffee trade, afternoon tea and possibly brunch on Sundays.

As to deliveries, during the MOD’s tenure, there were very limited deliveries. Practically all the food delivered was frozen and came from one distributor; linen was at most twice a week. Drink delivery was once a month.

The transport document speaks of using a consolidator to limit hotel deliveries. How does that work when sourcing local produce? Additionally, there is no mention of courier deliveries, which will be numerous.

There is also no discussion of the transport movements associated with the energy centre. Waste wood deliveries (assuming it is waste wood pellets, not virgin wood) will come in HGVs: what tonnage per delivery vehicle and how often will deliveries be? What about the bottom ash, some of which may be hazardous waste?

In total the APC believes the total number of vehicle trips is greatly underestimated. The assessment of traffic volumes on the roads in the vicinity requires much more work, including on the roads in Monxton, Amport and other villages. APC believes that Hampshire County Council should be heavily involved in that assessment and the consequential road improvement that will be required.

All of this means that traffic plans should be revisited and, depending on the conclusions reached, it will be necessary to address road signage on the local roads around the site.

Parking and Kids Club 

Is it proposed to use valet parking for guest vehicles to simplify traffic flow and parking spaces? By simple count it appears there is insufficient spaces for self-parking. The fear is that overflow parking will move to Furzedown Lane, or elsewhere. Additionally, when guests exit from the rear car park, they will stay on Furzedown Lane instead of leaving via the hotel drive.

APC is of the view that there should be a direct route (i.e., not via Furzedown Lane) between the front and rear car parks (whatever their size), and that this should be the standard way in and out for guest traffic. The proposed kids’ club blocks this access.

Further, it is clear from the Transport plan document that both energy centre and refuse trucks are going to be driving right up to and alongside the proposed kids’ club.

APC believes that the kids’ club should be relocated either to nearer the swim club or in the Shepherd Hut space.

If there was a sensible driving route between the car parks the possibility of closing Gate 2 could keep guests from using Furzedown Lane.

Furzedown Lane

APC’s view is the volume of traffic entering and leaving the hotel requires the main drive as the primary route in and out for all guest traffic, including traffic to the swim club. This will alleviate to a considerable degree the unacceptable pressure that would otherwise affect Furzedown Lane, including the difficult bend at the bottom of the lane.  The further advantage of utilising this route is that the developers can seek to control traffic speeds on private land.

Construction and operation 

APC understands that detailed construction and operational plans are matters to be agreed with the appointed main contractor. However, APC expected to see more detail in this regard. It should be a condition of planning that consultation with APC is required when considering construction traffic.

 Section 106 Agreement

What provisions are being made under section 106 to maintain/prepare/repair highways and public open space within the parish to mitigate the effect of the increase in traffic, both during construction and when operational?

 Sewage

A concern exists

Refuse Area

A question was raised about smells arising from wet/food waste. The transport statement speaks to 4-5 refuse collections each week. How will odour be controlled? 

Noise

A noise abatement policy will be a requirement. No fireworks.

Lighting 

A concern exists since the village does not have or want street lighting. 

Conclusion

As a proposal, Amport Parish Council (APC) supports this application for Planning.  There is a great amount of excitement regarding this project and APC believes that the new hotel will prove an asset to the community.

There comments above are areas that have been raised in consultation with the local parish and are of concern. APC looks forward to working closely with the developers in developing best possible solutions to these concerns.