Trouble at t’mill

PUBLISHED: 11:50 08 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:17 06 May 2010

Protesting about the plans for the mill

Protesting about the plans for the mill

ANGRY protesters say that a new £7.5m hotel planned by TV star Neil Morrissey will ruin rural life in their tiny hamlet. Mr Morrissey, along with business partner Matt Roberts, has bought Bowmans Mill in Astwick, near Stotfold. They have applied for pla

The Mill House

ANGRY protesters say that a new £7.5m hotel planned by TV star Neil Morrissey will "ruin rural life" in their tiny hamlet.

Mr Morrissey, along with business partner Matt Roberts, has bought Bowmans Mill in Astwick, near Stotfold.

They have applied for planning permission to convert the mill and nearby Mill House into a 24-suite hotel with a 100-seater restaurant, a spa and fitness centre.

Permission is also being sought for them to build a single-storey block for accommodation and service areas.

But residents of Astwick, which has just eight houses, say that the development is inappropriate.

Farmer Madeleine Palmer, who lives on Astwick Bury Farm next to the mill, said: "We don't want this development here. It is completely in the wrong place.

"It's far too big, it's right in the middle of the hamlet.

"It's within a conservation area. It's just going to ruin the rural life around here, ruin the enjoyment of many people.

"Astwick is such a serene, quiet area."

Mrs Palmer said the planned single-storey block would be built on a walled garden which is "generations old" and that she had been told the developers also wanted to build a helipad.

Residents are also concerned that public footpaths which run through the grounds would be closed or moved.

"It's a haven for wildlife and these people don't care, they are property developers," she said.

Mr Morrissey and Mr Roberts were attracted to the site because they believe that Peter Llewellyn Davies, one of the five brothers who inspired JM Barrie's Peter Pan, lived at the mill.

But Mrs Palmer branded this literary connection a "load of codswallop".

Her mother, Juliet Struthers, said: "Peter Llewellyn Davies never came to, let alone lived in Astwick, neither was he the inspiration of Peter Pan.

"James Barrie never ever came to Astwick. He died in 1937 long before Nico Llewellyn Davies (the youngest brother in the family) briefly lived in the Mill House."

A spokesman for Hurst House, the company owned by Mr Roberts and Mr Morrissey, said the planning department at Mid Beds District Council would decide whether or not the development was wrong for Astwick.

She said there was "absolutely no plan for a helipad", and that "as part of the restoration of the derelict walled gardens some residential accommodation rooms are created".

The spokesman categorically denied that footpaths would be closed, adding: "We would encourage local residents, as well as our guests, to use the footpaths in this idyllic location."

With regards to the literary connection, she said: "We have been acting on information given to us, and now we have completed on the property, will do a full and proper search into the history.

"Matt Roberts grew up in the neighbouring village (as have several generations of his family) and this illustrates his affection for the area, and his commitment to it.

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