Wiltshire Publications

Loss of Chalford House would be ‘too much’ for Westbury to bear

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WESTBURY can’t afford to lose its last hotel to a bid to transform Chalford House Hotel into a school for children with complex needs, town councillors say. 

Councillors are objecting to Compass Schools’ application to change the use of 18th century hotel at 114 Warminster Road to a part-day and part-residential education facility. 

Proposing objection, Cllr Gordon King, said, “The closure of this hotel means there will be no bedrooms for anyone to stay in anywhere in Westbury, except for bed and breakfasts. 

“To have a healthy and vibrant economy places with rooms to stay in is a must – these are absolutely essential facilities for modern times.” 

He continued, “The loss of this building would be too much for Westbury to bear.” 

A majority of highways, planning and development committee members at their meeting on Monday voted to object to the application. 

Chalford House Hotel, which dates from the 1700s, went into receivership in 2012 and was bought and refurbished by new owners in 2013. There was a restaurant and bar with 20 bedrooms, as well as ground floor garden rooms, family and dog friendly rooms and a purpose-built disabled room. It was remarketed in 2018 but has stood empty since. 

Compass offers environments in which to support children who have experienced trauma and adverse childhood experiences. 

Its plan for the A350 site incorporates a listed building, internal alterations, new landscaping and improvements to the frontage to provide a small education facility for 18 children aged  seven to 17 – six residential and 12 day pupils. 

Cllr Gordon King said the hotel had not been properly marketed and its closure had been largely due to the effects of the pandemic. 

Cllr Ward Jones said, “People should be encouraged to attempt to market this without taking short cuts to change it.  

“I know there are Airbnbs in Westbury but the sort of accommodation in hotels is a completely different environment. If we lose Chalford House we lose that facility in Westbury.” 

Cllr Jane Russ concurred, saying it was “mad” there were no hotels in Westbury, and cllr  Matt Dean said he favoured schools in new buildings, as old ones could not often meet their needs. 

But Cllr Sheila Kimmins voiced favour for the scheme, talking about Compass’s work and saying, “The inside of Chalford House is pokey and what Compass want to do is open it up. I have no objections.” 

Tetra Tech Planning on behalf of Compass Schools said in a statement with the application, “The site is currently vacant… there are four existing buildings on the site, one of which is Grade 2 listed. The remainder of the site comprises a large area of hardstanding fronting Warminster  Road and a garden to the rear.” 

A heritage planning statement with the application says, “The proposals will provide for a long-term viable  use of a heritage asset and will enhance the setting of the listed building by providing a high quality ornamental garden in a prominent public facing location.” 

Compass Schools currently has two Ofsted outstanding schools and two additional schools that meet the needs of children and young people requiring bespoke education packages.  

Compass says, “Our schools work as part of therapeutic communities supporting children with various packages of education, therapy and care as required.” 

Wiltshire Council will decide the application and the deadline for comments has passed 

 

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