PROPOSALS to transform Torquay's four star Palace Hotel into a £90million leisure resort are to be considered by planners next week.
They are being recommended to make a visit to the site in Babbacombe Road before making any decision on the plans from the hotel owners and developers Mapstone.
Planning officers say the Palace is one of the Bay's premier hotels with a great location and huge potential as a 'top end' tourist destination.
But their report says it is rapidly declining in the AA rankings. "It is in need of substantial investment if it is to be fit for purpose and survive as a top grade hotel," they say.
They point to the Tourism Strategy 'Turning the Tide' which identifies the need to improve the range of top quality hotels in the Bay.
The proposed improvements would be funded by the construction of 137 private flats on the adjacent tennis court site which already has planning approval for 142 holiday flats. The housing proposed is in four blocks which layer up from four to eight storeys. The officers says the height and volume of the flats is a key issue but they add: "Financial evidence has been put forward to show this scale of development is necessary to achieve the investment in the hotel."
The number of jobs at the complex is anticipated to increase from 80 to 130 and the visitor spend from £1.3million to £4.5million by 2019.
The wildlife and landscape qualities of the site are protected now and into the future. The setting of the adjacent Scheduled Ancient Monument is unaffected. The report says there is support from the local community for the broad principles of the scheme although there is concern about the size of buildings, car parking and the impact on the highway network, trees and wildlife. While £1.37million has been offered towards affordable housing contributions and £411,000 for community infrastructure contributions, officers say further negotiations are needed. There could be enhancements to the South West Coast path network, the Walls Hill wildlife areas, Ansteys Cove and potentially allow the opening up of access to Redgate Beach. The committee meets on Monday.