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Local authority puts Cumbria’s heritage first

News that the Lake District National Park Authority has refused plans to overhaul a Victorian Hotel in Grasmere's Town End Conservation Area has been welcomed by the Victorian Society, the national charity campaigning for the Victorian and Edwardian historic environment.

Last month, the Victorian Society joined local people urging planners to throw out the scheme for extensive demolition and redevelopment on the site of the Waterside Hotel, which sits in spacious grounds and is clearly visible from the southern and eastern shores of Grasmere Water.

Under plans to transform it into a five star hotel, the owner had applied for conservation area consent to demolish a substantial part of the historic building, including the north-eastern wing and the distinctive cylindrical Lakeland chimneys, and build an intrusive extension. Now, after more than 200 objections to the scheme, including one letter from Lord Melvyn Bragg, the Lake District National Park Authority has refused permission for the project, safeguarding one of Grasmere's most impressive and prominent buildings.

'We're delighted to see the Lake District National Park Authority protecting Grasmere's heritage in this way,' said Alex Baldwin, Conservation Adviser of the Victorian Society. ‘The demolition of the north eastern wing and chimneystacks of the Waterside Hotel would have robbed Grasmere of some of its most characteristic historic features, while the proposed extension was oversized and of poor quality. As it stood, the scheme would have taken a lot away from Grasmere's character.'

She continued: ‘But this is just the start. Like the owner, we want to see a successful use for the Waterside Hotel, which definitely needs some work. Converting it into a five star hotel could be a very good way of providing the impetus and funding to look after the building; the plans just need to be rethought. We want to see a scheme that respects and works with the building rather than against it. That way the Waterside Hotel could be an asset for us all.'

Thursday 8 May, 2008

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