Councillors speak out against Whittons Gardens hotel plans

OUTRAGED councillors have spoken out against West Lindsey District Council’s plans for a new hotel in the town - claiming that the public should have been consulted more.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 10th October 2012, 8:00 am

Members of the ruling Conservative Group at WLDC together with a local Labour Party Member voted to build a chain hotel and its car park on top of Whitton’s Gardens on Gainsborough Riverside, whilst the former Guildhall site will be flattened but remain undeveloped.

Now, opposing members Liberal Democrat councillors Reg Shore, Lesley Rollings and Trevor Young, together with Independents Councillors Geoff Wiseman and Chris Darcel, have joined together to vehemently oppose these plans.

Although the land is owned by the District Council, the opposition group argue that the Whitton’s Gardens area belongs to the people of Gainsborough after being given to them many years ago by Hickman Bacon and Roses.

“It is outrageous that there has been no community consultation on this project,” said a group spokesman.

“We feel cheated - we have had no opportunity to view alternative proposals and it seems as though officers are so desperate to seal a deal that they will go along with anything.”

He added: “We are all keen to have an hotel in the town, but this one commands a premier position on the river front and the other proposals are fast disappearing and now there are no guarantees for either a cinema or anything else on the site, which was initially proposed. Do residents want to lose the most important view of the riverside to a hotel block?”

Coun Darcel added: “By building a budget hotel and its car park on the site, Whitton’s Gardens will be lost to towns people and we council tax payers will get nothing back for Gainsborough’s only Waterside Amenity Area.”

“It may not be so bad if the package delivered brought new wealth and bus loads of visitors to town and enhanced the ambiance of the riverside - but it is something the town should decide.”

Trevor Halstead from Church Street Cycles was also upset.

“I’m absolutely seething,” said Trevor. “I want to know what WLDC are thinking. The view from out on the river and back is the only bit of garden area that we’ve got near the town centre and it’s mind-blowing that they want to restructure all of that.”

A WLDC spokesman responded to these claims, saying: “The hotel is part of the concept to develop the whole area for restaurants, shops, cinema and high quality public open space. It is just that the hotel is the first part of the concept to be developed. None of the other elements have fallen by the way side, they will be developed later.”

He continued: “It is not the whole of Whitton’s Gardens which is being developed - 20 per cent will be lost to built development, the rest will stay as public open space and car parking as it is at the moment. The riverside walk way will remain unaltered and available to the public. Views of the river will remain.”

He added: “WLDC will be embarking on a consultation exercise to get people involved in how the public realm in this area can be planned to make it more useable and improve its quality.”

Answering rumours that the new hotel would be a Premier Inn, Kevin Murray, Senior Acquisition Manager for Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants who handle the chain, said: “We are currently searching for a suitable location in Gainsborough as it’s a town we want to be in.”