Housing plans for wedding venue set to be given go-ahead

A FORMER wedding venue which shut less than a year ago due to financial problems could be converted into a housing development, if a council gives the green light next week.

The Node in Codicote, which was also a hotel and conference centre, closed suddenly last October, leaving many brides-to-be and Christmas party organisers in the lurch.

The venue, famed for its beauty, was sold to London based developer Wilson Properties Ltd, which submitted a planning application to North Herts District Council (NHDC) in June.

That application has since been amended, and it is now proposed to convert the main house into seven apartments, and the former stable block into three mews houses.

The company also wants to demolish the modern extensions to the main house, bedroom accommodation block, training centre and outbuildings, remove existing roads and parking areas, build a new detached house, and restore the Grade II listed Peach House.

Councillors are recommended to approve three applications at next Thursday’s planning control committee meeting.

But there are some concerns from neighbouring properties and businesses on what affect such a development could have.

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A report, which has been seen by councillors who sit on the committee, says: “The occupier of Coombe Lodge has written to object and note the site is Green Belt land. They express concern with regard to noise, highways impacts, impact on wildlife and the environment.

“The occupier of Bradley Springs question the density of the proposal for seven residences in the main house and state that the character of the site would be spoilt by the inclusion of terraced houses. The loss of one of the access roads would greatly increase the use of the remaining access particularly during the rush hours. They consider that the separate applications would lead to the possibility of creeping development by infilling.”

Following comments from some concerned parties that the development would impact on Green Belt, NHDC does concede that the land could be considered as undeveloped.

In the report, officer Chris Carter says: “It could be argued that the site is not previously developed and so I consider that it is worthwhile considering what the applicant’s case of very special circumstances might be.

“These have been outlined in their planning statement and include environmental benefits, heritage benefits, sustainability benefits and benefits related to the future management of the site.”

The county council has found no planning or highway issues with the plans, with the parish council also coming up with no objections.

Mr Carter adds: “Having weighed up all of the considerations it is my view that the benefits of this scheme outweigh the negatives.

“It is my view that the re-use of these buildings in the Green Belt would not prejudice the openness of the green belt. The buildings are already there and no extension is proposed to these buildings.”

The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at NHDC’s offices in Letchworth GC at 7.30pm.