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Rundown hotel in Penzance could be turned into flats

Rundown hotel in Penzance could be turned into flats

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 12:52pm 3rd January 2020. (Updated at 12:52pm 20th January 2020)

Written by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

Plans have been submitted to convert a rundown hotel into residential apartments and recreate the original appearance of the building.

The Cliff Hotel in Penzance was at the centre of controversy in 2018 after its former manager was given a suspended jail sentence for using it to house people despite breaching fire and safety rules.

It was sold earlier this year at auction and now a planning application has been submitted to turn it into eight “high quality” apartments.

A design and access statement submitted with the plans states: “The development proposes the comprehensive internal and external repair and refurbishment programme the building so desperately requires, alongside a body of sympathetic alterations and extensions, in order to create eight high quality residential apartment units.”

Under the new plans submitted to Cornwall Council parts of the hotel building, which is described as “deteriorating”, would be removed and replaced with new extensions.

The design and access statement explains that the aim is to recreate the original design of the building in Penrose Terrace.

Cliff Hotel Penzance
Early concept sketch for how the former Cliff Hotel in Penzance could look once converted into flats - a planning application has been submitted.

Explaining proposed changes to the east side of the building it states: “Here a  two-storey extension is proposed, continuing the character of the current set-back entrance range of No1 Penrose Terrace.

“The proposal deliberately repeats the scale, materials, and proportions of the historic element in order to avoid visual distraction from a dominant  architectural character continued across the whole of Penrose Terrace, which delivers much aesthetic benefit to this section of the Conservation Area.

“A traditional double-fronted facade is proposed to the seaward elevation to reference the original design of No1 Penrose Terrace prior to modifications. These modifications included the insertion of an additional window at first floor level to help provide an additional ‘sea view’ bedroom and the addition of the substantial flat-roofed extension built up to the site boundary – which together have disrupted the original architectural intention for a unique but elegant dual aspect end to the Terrace.”

A comprehensive series of external and internal improvements are listed in the application including creating green spaces and gardens around the site, reinstating traditional railings; and replacing an “unsightly” flat roof with a traditional slate roof.

Cliff Hotel Penzance
An 1850s\' sketch of the opening of the railway station in Penzance which shows the Cliff Hotel in the background and has been used to help form designs

Inside the building there are plans to reinstate fireplaces which had been removed, upgrading all floors and ceilings and the restoration of surviving 19th century elements including window shutters, skirtings and doors.

Agents for the applicant state that there is a need for the site to be improved: “The site has recently been described a “growing eyesore” and the local community’s desire to see a visual enhancement and permanent resolution has been clearly expressed, through the press, social media and direct contact with the applicant since their recent acquirement of the site.”

The application includes seeking a change of use of the building from a hotel to apartments.

In the design and access statement the agents suggest that the former owners of the hotel had made a decision to run it “into the ground” after plans were revealed for a budget hotel opening nearby in Penzance.

Cliff Hotel Penzance
Early concept sketch for how the former Cliff Hotel in Penzance could look once converted into flats - a planning application has been submitted.

They state: “Online reviews for The Cliff Hotel point toward a struggling operation with a customer-offering completely out of sync with the expectations of today’s consumer. Indeed, it is clear from the physical evidence found in and around the hotel building today that little or no meaningful investment had been made in the repair, maintenance or improvement of guest accommodation or facilities for several decades.

“Even simple cosmetic enhancement was seemingly avoided during the final years of hotel use. The majority of décor was found to be neither neutral nor fresh – as expected from a budget hotel offering today, nor was it striking or stylish as expected from a quirky or boutique offering. Many period details that could have provided the interior with an appealing character were removed or covered over, suggesting an owner at odds with their premises, as well as a business at odds with its market.”

The planning application was submitted last week and awaits a decision by Cornwall Council.

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