THE decision on whether to back plans to allow the old St Peter’s School in Marlborough to be converted into a hotel, with luxury homes in its grounds, has been delayed.

Limited parking is already a thorny issue in the town, and fears this could be made worse led councillors to vote to defer making a decision on the multi-million pound scheme for The Parade.

Developers Sherbourne feels it is now stuck in a Catch 22.

It says it has complied with Wiltshire Council’s parking requirements on the proposed plan.

“We are obliged to comply with statutory parking requirements, which we have done,” said David Milligan, Sherbourne’s development director.

“But where to we go from here? We are in a business world, and removing a house to accommodate more parking is not commercially viable.”

He said the 41 planned spaces – 23 for the hotel and 16 for houses plus two for visitors – complied with council’s own parking policies.

An idea put to the town council planning committee by Cllr Guy Loosmore involved underground parking, although he did admit it might be too expensive.

But the idea was quashed by Mr Milligan who explained the site’s drains would make it a complex and expensive engineering problem.

“We think there could be another three spaces created, on the wide paved area to the front of the building,” said Mr Milligan,

“But this is not within the boundary of our development.”

He said this could form part of discussions with councillors in the coming weeks.

The council rules do not include staff parking needs in its development policies.

Committee chairman Cllr Susie Price said no consideration had been given to those likely to work in the hotel and restaurant.

“It is unlikely that people who might come to work in these places will be able to afford to live in Marlborough,” she said.

“And there is no public transport here after 6.30pm. So workers are most likely going to drive here, and that will add to pressure on parking.”

Despite the delay, and a request for a further site visit, town councillors were broadly all in favour of the scheme, which was described by Cllr Nick Fogg as ‘the best of all possible worlds’ for Marlborough.

“It will revitalise an important area of the town centre,” he said.

Detailed plans and artist’s impressions of the 23-bed hotel, restaurant and eight homes on The Parade were unveiled to the public ahead of the town council’s planning meeting.

Around 40 local residents and business owners attended the exhibition, with many staying for the meeting.

The site was left vacant when St Peter’s Junior and St Mary’s Infant schools merged to become Marlborough St Mary’s Primary, which opened in 2017.

Sherbourne bought the site from the council for an undisclosed sum in October last year.The planning committee meets again on February 3 with the decision due to be made by February 10.