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Thomas Hardy hotel revamp delay blamed on council

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Owners of a hotel immortalised in a Thomas Hardy novel have blamed ongoing delays to its refurbishment on council planning hold-ups.The Kings Arms in Dorchester had been due to open in spring 2017 but owners Draco say work will now begin in 2018.The company said it was “amazed” by the sluggishness of the planning process.West Dorset District Council said the delay was due to circumstances outside its control “including a change in the applicant’s appointed architect”.More on this and other stories from across the South of EnglandJames Brooke-Webb, director of Draco, said: “We are still unable to start as the conservation officer has only just responded to our application made in the summer.”We are amazed at how slow the process continues to be.”The council’s planning councillor, Ian Gardner, said: “Circumstances outside of the control of the council, including a change in the applicant’s appointed architect and amendments to the scheme, have led to a delay in compliance with conditions of the listed building consent by the applicant.”We are continuing to work with the applicant in order to reach agreement and hope the applicant can appoint a building contractor in the new year to complete the compliance with the final conditions, with a view to starting works in the spring.”The Kings Arms Hotel, which featured in Hardy’s novel The Mayor of Casterbridge, closed in November 2015 after going into receivership 10 months earlier under previous owners.During its 300-year history, the grade II* listed hotel has hosted monarchs and musicians.According to the Best Western group, to which the hotel was previously affiliated, guests have included Queen Victoria, King George IV, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
Source: BBC Dorset