Harpenden House Hotel sale: 'something has to happen to prevent this'

St Albans & Harpenden Review: Harpenden House Hotel sale: 'something has to happen to prevent this' Harpenden House Hotel sale: 'something has to happen to prevent this'

Campaigners against the closure of Harpenden House Hotel have vowed to fight on after the announcement the sale to a housing developer will be completed at the beginning of April.

News emerged today that the keys to the Grade II listed hotel will be handed over to Fairview New Homes on April 3.

Since customers were told on Valentine’s Day that the hotel would be closing its doors to build flats, residents have launched a Save the Harpenden House Hotel petition, which has already collected 1,400 signatures.

On hearing the news Hilary Taylor, petition organiser, said she was speechless.

She said: "This is very bad news. We hadn’t realised they had got that far in to negotiations.

"We do not need flats in the centre of Harpenden. Considering the size of Harpenden, we need a hotel - it is a big part of our town. This would be pulling the heartstrings out of Harpenden."

In a statement released by Fairview today, it said: "The setting of Harpenden House has been compromised over time with inappropriate development.  The acquisition of this site by Fairview represents an opportunity to improve the setting of the Listed Building and create a high quality development in the Harpenden Conservation Area. 

"Engagement with the local community will be of paramount importance to help inform the design solution for this site." 

The news has come as a blow to residents supporting Save the Harpenden House Hotel, because they had wished to protect the Grade II listed building by gaining Community Asset status.

Ms Taylor added: "We are definitely willing to engage with Fairview because we do not want the flats here in the first place.

"Something has to happen to prevent this completion before the beginning of April."

Campaigner John Hansen was due to present his arguments to protect the Georgian town hotel as a Community Asset to St Albans District Council at a Planning Policy Committee on March 4.

However he was informed that the discussion was 'not appropriate' for the committee.

Disappointed at the last minute decision, Mr Hansen said: "Now the challenge is to get the issue discussed and actioned as soon as possible.

"Time is now of the essence. We need to see St Albans and Harpenden councils urgently discussing Community Asset issues both between themselves and with the Hotel."

Online comments included in the petition show the strong feeling among the community. Short statements simply read: "We need this hotel", "Our company meets here every month", "I went to school there", and "Where will my relatives stay?"

Mr Hansen and Ms Taylor are now urging residents to continue contacting Town and District Councillors about the closure, as well as joining in with on-line discussion.

Ms Taylor added: "I urge St Albans District Council and Harpenden Town Council to urgently debate Community Assets and actions necessary for the protection of Harpenden House Hotel, for the benefit of our community."

To make a comment visit the public consultaiton at www.harpendenhouseconsultation.com.

Comments (1)

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3:41pm Mon 17 Mar 14

PE2014 says...

Having been one of the many couples that were told that their wedding day has been cancelled by Harpenden House Hotel, I do not want to see the Grade II listed building developed into flats. The hotel’s architectural features and standing within Harpenden were just some of the reasons behind choosing this hotel as our venue. Harpenden House Hotel however was up for sale before they took our deposit and failed to inform us of this. A senior member of the hotel or chain would have been fully aware that the hotel was for sale and they continued to take the large deposits of many couples. The sale of Harpenden House Hotel would surely have been either completed, or at the very least in advanced negotiations. The hotel has still to date not informed us formally that our wedding will not be going ahead at their venue this year. Phone calls and letters have not been answered. Even though many of the staff will lose their jobs, which we are truly saddened to hear, a standard of professionalism should still be adhered too. Surely for those looking for employment elsewhere, professionalism is one area that potential new employers would be looking for? The Terms and Conditions were signed as part of the wedding contract, however although heavily favouring the hotel, these conditions were signed by us having absolutely no knowledge of this imminent sale. Surely someone at Harpenden House Hotel or the hotel chain should be held accountable. It is hard enough having to save for a wedding but the way in which the hotel has gone about this is all wrong. We are now out of pocket from the hotel’s actions and no compensation has been offered to support the couples who have been let down considerably.
Having been one of the many couples that were told that their wedding day has been cancelled by Harpenden House Hotel, I do not want to see the Grade II listed building developed into flats. The hotel’s architectural features and standing within Harpenden were just some of the reasons behind choosing this hotel as our venue. Harpenden House Hotel however was up for sale before they took our deposit and failed to inform us of this. A senior member of the hotel or chain would have been fully aware that the hotel was for sale and they continued to take the large deposits of many couples. The sale of Harpenden House Hotel would surely have been either completed, or at the very least in advanced negotiations. The hotel has still to date not informed us formally that our wedding will not be going ahead at their venue this year. Phone calls and letters have not been answered. Even though many of the staff will lose their jobs, which we are truly saddened to hear, a standard of professionalism should still be adhered too. Surely for those looking for employment elsewhere, professionalism is one area that potential new employers would be looking for? The Terms and Conditions were signed as part of the wedding contract, however although heavily favouring the hotel, these conditions were signed by us having absolutely no knowledge of this imminent sale. Surely someone at Harpenden House Hotel or the hotel chain should be held accountable. It is hard enough having to save for a wedding but the way in which the hotel has gone about this is all wrong. We are now out of pocket from the hotel’s actions and no compensation has been offered to support the couples who have been let down considerably. PE2014
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