Plans to turn Dolphin Hotel into student flats
decided

Plans to turn Dolphin Hotel into student flats decided

The Dolphin Hotel’s application involves converting the Grade II*-listed building into 99 student bedrooms.

However, the plan attracted numerous objections from residents, councillors, tourism groups, resident groups and the Hampshire Branch of the Jane Austen Society.

The literary great was one of the famous guests in the hotel’s past, which reportedly also included Queen Victoria and Admiral Lord Nelson.

A representative of the Old Town Community Forum said at the planning committee on Tuesday that the market demand for student accommodation is “unclear” and that there is more student accommodation than is needed in the city centre.

“We understand that in some places, student accommodation is being rented to non-students, which may indicate that there is more accommodation than is needed.

“Student density is a particular issue in the old town. If this is approved, there would be 532 student units from Bargate to Briton Street. This is a real lack of balance in the local community who want a diverse, exciting, well-lived city centre. We think this use is unacceptable.”

Simon Reynier, on behalf of the City of Southampton Society which has the aim of preserving the city’s built heritage, said that the application indicated that the general public would only be allowed in the building Monday through Friday and not weekends, when the city could “get most of the cruises and visitors”.

One resident said the council is “not interested in its culture and its history”, adding: “How sad!”

On behalf of the applicant, John Steven said that the company has been leasing with the hotel for over 20 years and that they have a “love” for the building and want to do something with it to protect and preserve it.

Mr Steven said: “It is really suffering. We haven’t had the ability to invest in it, and it needs investment. We looked at everything, residential, student accommodation, and Airbnb equivalence, and this is the only option we found to generate enough money to invest in the property.

“I think it will bring a vibrant business.”

Regarding comments on “not having any regard to historical buildings in the city”, the planning officers said that the project will retain the nature of the building.

They said: “This use, is the best use. It is not going to result in any historic changes or have any visible impact on the conservation area.

“I don’t think it is acceptable to say the council has no regard for its historic environment. This is a really good retention, and the council will work with the applicant and the agent to make sure there is no loss of important features within the building.”

As requested by the objectors, the applicant said it will expand public access to the dining area on weekends. It will also explore the possibility that the site could be used as a hotel during the holidays and back to student accommodation in term time.

Councillor Christian Cox said: “We have a student demand for this sort of accommodation, and this is to ease the burden on our house accommodation, which we are hoping to free up and allow more families to live in the city.

“I hope that one day we may see more public access if the building can return to hotel use, particularly if it has hotel use outside the occupation of students during term time.”

Southampton City Council granted permission to Dolphin Hotel Property Limited to convert the historic hotel into student accommodation.

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