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Call for Marlborough to fully harness its tourism potential
By Nigel Kerton Within weeks of an appeal decision allowing the closure of the Ivy House Hotel in Marlborough’s historic High Street so that it can become a girls boarding house for the College, a document has been published by Wiltshire Council planners saying further proposals to do away with hotel or pub accommodation will be resisted.
The irony of the phrase in the Wiltshire Core Strategy submission document was not lost on former mayor and one of Marlborough’s two Wiltshire councillors Nick Fogg who during a town council debate on Monday last week on the development of Crown Estate land west of Salisbury Road was supported by colleagues when he said the possibility of a new hotel on the site was welcome news for the town.
As director of Marlborough International Jazz Festival he is only too aware of the lack of hotel rooms and other guest accommodation in Marlborough, exacerbated by the closure of the town’s second biggest hotel, the Ivy House, in January.
Over the years the area has lost two other significant hotels, the Ailesbury Arms at the town hall end of the High Street that was redeveloped into offices and Savernake Forest Hotel at Durley -- once owned by the Shakespearian actor Richard Johnson -- and which was redeveloped for homes and a conference centre.
Coun Fogg told town council colleagues he was in touch with a well known chain interested in opening a hotel on the Salisbury Road site opposite the business park.
Wiltshire Core Strategy is a document being published in support of the Wiltshire Community Plan 2011-2026 and is intended to set out “a flexible and realistic framework within which local communities can work”.
In the two pages allocated to the Marlborough Community Area the report refers to the town and area having considerable tourism potential, which arguably has yet to be fully harnessed It says housing growth appropriate to the scale of the town and planned to cause minimal impact on the town’s rich built, historic and landscape assets will be encouraged to help maintain and enhance Marlborough’s role as a service and tourist centre and to meet local needs.
The report says there is likely to be some demand for new employment space in the area and that the existing GP surgery will need to expand to allow further population growth to proceed Extra capacity will also be needed in the infant and junior school sector to meet future needs, said the report.
Finally it says proposals to do away with bed spaces in hotels or pubs will be resisted.
Coun Chris Humphries, chairman of Marlborough Area Board, said local councillors had discussed the strategy and agreed the best area for developing more homes was in Salisbury Road and he said: “It was agreed this will need to be done to progress the town and maintain its viability.”
However he said that while some room remained for further development on Marlborough Business Park he envisaged needs could be met in some of the villages like the small industrial units at Home Farm in Mildenhall. “It does not all have to be in Marlborough; look at Mildenhall as an example.”