Bath hoteliers are ‘disappointed but not surprised' by the council's decision to approve the Bath College Allen building hotel development.
Real estate investment, development and asset management company Dominvs Group purchased the property last year and submitted plans to turn it into a 206-bedroom hotel, which it had reduced to 198 bedrooms in the latest plans approved by Bath and North East Somerset Council this week.
However, local hoteliers, including Laurence Beere, managing director of the Queensberry hotel, and Jonathan Stapleton, general manager of the Royal Crescent hotel, sent a letter to the council earlier this year protesting the plans, claiming the market is "oversaturated" and struggling to cope.
Stapleton described the approval as "yet another poor decision by the council", and added: "Bath is going backwards due to its [the council's] lack of understanding as to what is actually needed".
"We are all hugely disappointed by the decision to approve, although we are not surprised," added Beere.
In 2015, Hotel Solutions provided a report to the council recommending the creation of new hotel accommodation in the city, which the council took on board, announcing plans for 500-700 new hotel bedrooms by 2029.
But hoteliers say the council has already approved more than 700 rooms in the last four years without considering the impact of Airbnb or the lack of growth in visitors staying in the city. An updated report is understood to have since been passed to the authority.
Beere said: "In the meantime further developments from other commercial operators are likely to be brought forward and will use the outdated information as well as this latest approval as a precedent to support their own applications."
He continued: "Dominvs Group and their representatives have put forward arguments that all this is just ‘whinging' on the part of the existing business community, which frankly is arrogant and offensive… Dominvs Group claims that the hotel will create 100 new jobs and generate £4.1m in the local economy. However, if 10 small businesses close as a result, what has been gained?
"We will continue to work with the local authority to address the problems with the hospitality economy as it stands… We will also try to engage with the developer and any future developers to try and educate them to the very real challenges the city faces, although clearly at this time Dominvs Group are not willing to hear what is being said."