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BATH: Party house refused

BATH: Party house refused

Roman City Guest House in Bathwick. Google.

The owners of a 25-bed party house in Bath say they will appeal after retrospective planning permission was denied. 

Residents have complained that Raby Place is “unliveable” after the grade II-listed former Roman City Guest House reopened as Steam House “several months” ago.

Owner Bath Hot Houses said it was disappointed neighbours had “harassed” guests over the weekend after planning permission was denied last Thursday.

Letting agent Bath Luxury Rentals is advertising the six-bedroom Georgian property with prices starting at £1,799 for weekends – worth some £60,000 from the bookings on 33 weekends until next September listed on its website.

A Bath Hot Houses spokesperson said: “We were naturally disappointed to be informed about the planning refusal and will be appealing this decision with the Planning Inspectorate.

“The building has a commercial planning use and until recently has been vacant and attracting squatters and drug use.

“We believe the plans for the building are beneficial to the local area and the tourism economy of Bath.

“We were further disappointed to hear reports of neighbours directly harassing guests to the property over the weekend. This has been reported to the relevant authorities.

“This isn’t the face of Bath that should be put forward to visitors and we would request that any further comments are put to the planning officer in charge of the case.”

More than 90 people had objected to the retrospective application.

Resident Andrew Hudson wrote in his objection: “We have unfortunately had this party house up and running for several months, much to the annoyance of just about every neighbour in the street.

“Residents have already had to put up with large groups of boys and girls late into the night/early morning playing loud music, singing to karaoke, groups out on the street drinking, large groups of smokers in the rear yard late at night.”

An environmental protection officer said Bath and North East Somerset Council had only received one unsubstantiated noise complaint so there was no reason to object to the change of use.

Bath Hot Houses insisted in its planning application that 25 was the maximum number of guests and said they would lose £500 from their deposit if they received a noise complaint.

It said visitors would be instructed to not smoke outside the building after 9pm and to not use the courtyard after 10pm.

Mr Hudson said that was far too late and could not be enforced.

He said the £500 charge was “not much incentive to do anything about the noise as the agent just makes more money every time they get a complaint”.

Planning officers took a similar view, judging that a fine of as little as £20 per person would not be much of a deterrent.

Another objector, Chris Borkett, said: “I strongly object to this proposal. There have been parties held at this property for the best part of two months, creating significant noise and disturbances for the local residents.

“Combined with the noise from the student houses at this end of Bathwick Hill, it is rare that we have an unbroken night’s sleep. This area of Bath is becoming unlivable for normal tax paying residents.”

Others feared that allowing the change of use would set a precedent.

Bathwick’s Councillor Yukteshwar Kumar said: “The property is in a fully residential area. It is just not suitable for a ‘party house’.

“Changing from a B&B to a commercial holiday let will have immense impact in the residential area. There will be more noise, light and air pollution if we approve this application.

“Unsightly and extremely unhygienic rubbish bins are left, and I have received umpteen number of complaints from the neighbours already.

“Where are the guests going to park their cars? There is no designated place for parking.”

Fellow ward councillor Manda Rigby said the change of use was unacceptable.

Refusing permission, planning officers said future complaints were likely, adding: “The potential level of noise and disturbance by nature of the development would cause significant harm to the residential amenity of the neighbouring occupiers.”

The townhouse was part of an £8.1million property portfolio owned by Shane Davies, his wife Rihanna, mother Sheila and sister Tracey that was seized in 2019 after the National Crime Agency found it had been derived from the proceeds of unlawful conduct. The investigation found that the property was likely bought as a result of mortgage fraud and the sale of controlled drugs.

Bath Hot Houses’ application said the current owners extensively refurbished and repaired the former bed and breakfast but the business was no longer viable due to changes in tourism.

Words: Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter


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