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