A luxury Aberdeen hotel has withdrawn plans for an ambitious extension that would have created a rooftop dining terrace.
The Chester Hotel said it would instead focus on the business’ Covid recovery after city planners recommended the proposal be rejected over noise concerns.
Bosses at the hotel, on Queens Road, lodged their plan last year after finding a “surprising” number of customers were willing to meet outside.
They said it would help them to better serve people during the pandemic, with coronavirus restrictions more relaxed for outdoor hospitality than inside.
Neighbours, however, lodged more than 40 objections and the council’s planning committee was due to have the final say on Thursday.
Ahead of that meeting, however, Stephen Gow, general manager of the Chester Hotel, said yesterday: “We are withdrawing this application at this time.
“Our business currently faces the not insignificant challenges of reopening the hotel following a third period of enforced closure and our efforts will be operationally focused on this for the foreseeable future.”
Why did planners recommend refusal?
City planners had issued a 14-page report recommending the application be refused.
It references a noise assessment which says any increase in sound levels for neighbours would be “negligible,” assuming doors to the restaurant remain closed.
But environmental health experts warned a number of restrictions would also be required to ensure this.
These would have included a 60-customer limit, a ban on amplified music and use only between 8-10.10pm, as this was the only data provided in the application.
Planners say these measures would not be enforceable, noting: “It is not considered that planning conditions could reasonably be used to limit the rooftop space to use for exclusively dining purposes, given the effect of the overarching lawful hotel use which would provide for any activity that might reasonably be expected to take place within a hotel.”
They said the opening hours proposed might be “unduly restrictive,” with a need to keep doors closed “practically difficult” to enforce during period periods.
The report adds: “The submitted noise assessments give some indication that noise levels experienced at the closest neighbouring residential properties would not be excessive.
“However, the information is not sufficient to support the hours of operation sought by the applicants and the proposal cannot be made acceptable through the use of reasonable planning conditions.”
The report adds: “In the event that planning permission were to be granted, the planning authority would have no control over the actual number of people who could use the terrace or the activity which could take place there.
“In theory any activity which one would expect to reasonably take place within a hotel, could take place without planning permission, as long as no further physical development was undertaken.
“For example, activities such as outside drinking and dining, the conducting of weddings or taking of wedding photos, or smoking, could legitimately take place on the terrace.”