Drake’s Island hotel may not take off as council admits regret over egretsPLANS for the £10m Drake’s Island hotel is to be given the thumbs down after council chiefs “regret” laws over egrets.
In January this year vowed to rubber stamp the luxury hotel concept as long as concerns over the environmental impact were met.
Developer Rotolok, headed by former Argyle owner Dan McCauley, assured the council the island’s little egret bird colony would not be disturbed by construction work, or would at least find new habitats close by.
Peter Ford, Plymouth City Council’s head of development management said he expected the application to return before the committee in April, revealing progress had been made and developers had employed an ecological specialist to produce a management plan.
The proposal, which has been in the pipeline for close to 20 years, would see a top-spec hotel built on the island in the Sound with guests ferried to and from the mainland.
Rotolok had previously accused the council of holding it to ‘ransom’ over its protection of the little egrets.
In the latest twist, council officers are recommending planning committee members refuse the latest application.
Concluding a planning application report conclusion, the authors noted how council officers, “including up to Director level, have put in a significant amount of work to help this proposal move forwards positively, in recognition of the importance of Drake’s Island to Plymouth and the unique set of opportunities and challenges presented by this proposal.”
In a thinly veiled reprimand the report notes how the application “has been supported in several ways” by the council, “including with the commissioning of work at the authority’s expense to address issues the planning application itself should have sorted out on
The report noted how officers had “worked very hard to try and address the complex nature conservation, historic environment, European Habitat Regulation Assessment, flooding and transport issues with the aim of getting to a position where a positive recommendation could be put to [the] Planning Committee.”
The report also accepted the proposed development was “considered to be of a high quality and would potentially secure the restoration and beneficial use of one of Plymouth’s most prominent and iconic historic monuments.”
The authors agreed that “in most respects” the scheme was “well aligned to planning policy objectives and is considered consistent with spirit of the City Vision – to create ‘one of Europe's finest, most vibrant waterfront cities’”.
Authors admitted: “The list of potential benefits generated by the proposal is considerable.”
However, the report said it had to take objections raised by consultees, including Natural England and the RSPB “very seriously”.
The report noted how the council was under a legal requirement to “avoid significant effects of plans and projects on European designated sites.”
The authors revealed: “Having conducted a Habitats Regulation Assessment, officers
have unfortunately had no option but to come to the conclusion that the proposal is likely to result in significant adverse impacts upon the integrity of the designated sites.
“It is with great regret, therefore that officers consider there is no other lawful option than to recommend that this planning application be refused
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