Luxury Preston hotel expansion facing axe over plans to chop down woodland

A top wedding venue's expansion plans are in danger of being axed because of the need to protect almost 100 trees.

By Brian Ellis
Monday, 9th May 2022, 3:45 pm

Owners of the luxurious Bartle Hall Hotel near Preston want to add more rooms, financed by a scheme to build seven five-bed detached houses in the grounds.

But planning officers are recommending the project should be refused because of the effect it would have on the 18th century manor house's woodland setting.

Of 173 trees safeguarded in the 16-acres of gardens by a tree protection order (TPO), 97 have been earmarked for felling to make way for the housing development.

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Four-star Bartle Hall is a popular venue for weddings and functions.

The council's arborist has objected to the proposal saying the trees should be preserved, not chopped down.

And Woodplumpton Parish Council has also lodged an objection because of the damage it would do to an established woodland area and the wildlife it supports.

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Two separate planning applications have been submitted to Preston Council by Bartle Hall - one for four large detached homes and the other for three.

Artist's impression of how the new homes would look (Image: PWA Planning).

A report to planning chiefs in both applications says: "Should the proposal be consented to the proceeds from the sale of the site would enable expansion works to be undertaken to Bartle Hall Hotel.

"This is a feature of the development that is now more important than ever, given the devastating impact the Cobid-19 pandemic has had on the hospitality industry."

Four of the proposed houses would be for the open market, while the other three would be self-build.

The properties are on a parcel of land 130-metres to the west of the hotel's main building in an area occupied by woodland.

The city council say the site is in a countryside location and is therefore inappropriate for housing.

But planners representing the hotel argue extensive house building in the area - the venue will eventually be completely surrounded by developments and adjacent to the Preston Western Distributor Road - means the location will soon be on the edge of Preston and not in open countryside.

The planning report explains that concerns about tree loss were raised at pre-application meetings with planning officers in 2019. But the intention would be to carry out replacement planting.

Investigations showed 83 of the 173 trees covered by the tree protection order were categorised as unsuitable for retention and a separate application to fell them would be forthcoming regardless of the outcome of the current application.

Eight letters of objection were lodged with the council over the proposal, raising concerns that the loss of such a high number of trees would change the character of the area from rural to suburban and would lead to a reduction in wildlife and habitat.

A report by planning officers says: "The council's arborist has objected to the proposals due to the loss of amenity tree cover, stating that a high number of trees are to be felled and even those that are in poor condition are still beneficial for habitat.

"The arborist states that the woodland has been preserved because of the benefits it brings to the area and any trees which are dead, dying or diseased should be replaced by new trees in a nearby location.

"The loss of the woodland and the erection of seven large detached modern dwellings would urbanise the rural area."