CONCERNED Gainsborough residents presented a petition against the building of a hotel on Whitton’s Gardens to the Chief Executive of West Lindsey District Council (WLDC).
The Gainsborough Standard went along to discuss the development of the 50 room Premiere Inn as the petition of nearly 700 signatures was presented to WLDC chief Manjeet Gill in opposition to the hotel being located on the site next to Lidl and opposite the former Guildhall.
Leaders from the Trinity Action Group, the South West Ward Residential Group and the Gainsborough Riverside Festival Committee were all in attendance to discuss local residents’ fears and concerns with the council.
While a WLDC spokesman confirmed that the work seen being carried out on Whitton’s Gardens over recent weeks was simply ‘to investigate the ground conditions of the site’, Manjeet Gill promised that ‘the public would be consulted’ as the development process progressed.
“Open space is a valuable commodity and very scarce in this part of town and we don’t see what right West Lindsey District Council has to sell it on,” said Trinity Action Group chairman Ian Mills.
“We’re not against the building of the hotel at all - Gainsborough needs jobs and growth. It’s just the location they’ve chosen that everyone is opposed to.”
“When we first heard of the Elswitha Quarter development, we didn’t realise that it would spread across the road and down the riverside. If the town had been asked first then we wouldn’t have to have this conversation now.”
Riverside Festival chairman Tim Davies added: “We’ll be effected by having to change very carefully made plans around what we do and health and safety.”
“We can’t understand why they’ve chosen Whitton’s Gardens when there are much more suitable sites just 100 yards away. We’ve been told that the hotel will only take up a fraction of the site, but if you look at the plans you’ll see that what they’re actually proposing is massive.”
South West Ward Residential Group chairman Alan Frost agreed that more communication and transparency was needed.
“Our residents just don’t want it there - it’s that simple, really,” said Alan. “This is land that was given the people of this town by the Whitton family years ago - what right do the council have to now go and sell it on to a private hotel company?”
“There has been no consultation with residents and it just seems like we’re going to lose this important part of Gainsborough without even being asked.”
However, WLDC Chief Executive Manjeet Gill was keen to emphasise that the public will be consulted as the development process continues with all decisions being open to public dialogue.
“We will have to check all of the covenants before a final decision is made,” she said.
“The council have not yet signed any papers to sell the site yet, but the committee decision regarding the building of a hotel has been made and that can not be overturned for six months.”
She continued: “This meeting today is to accept the petition from these groups which will then be presented to the council of elected members who will then decide what to do with it.”
“The reason that West Lindsey District Council has been unable to comment on this recently is due to the Judicial Review brought on from an unsuccessful developer. While our focus was on that, we were legally unable to say much but now that it has been rejected we’ll be able to consider every element of these residents’ concerns.”
Manjeet Gill added: “As the planning process continues, the developers will be carrying out substantial consultations with the public.”
The Chief Executive also assured the groups of there concerns about space and landscaping.
“The court case was from an unsuccessful developer who wanted to use all of Whitton’s Gardens as a car park, whereas the plans of the successful developer involve a lot more open space,” she said. “They have taken licence of that, and there are also proposals for some landscaping to improve gardens and deal with the unused public conveniences.”
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