A SCHEME by a Torquay hotel to dig up public land to build car parking spaces for its own use has been turned down by planners.
The Headland Hotel wanted to create 19 new car parking spaces on Daddyhole Plain in a bid to attract more coach parties.
The hotel had received the support of the South West Coast Path team which said the hotel would also spend money on revamping walking facilities.
John Slater, from the South West Coast Path team, told the planning committee: "This section of the coast path is well below the standards of a national trail. It needs serious investment.
"I approached the hotel and they offered to spend £20,000 to improve the path subject to a solution for their parking problem.
"The other benefit from this is that, at present, I have access to European funds.
"If this is successful more money can be used to match fund for the project.
"We're talking about a possible £50,000 which could be used to sort out the cliff end.
"We see it as a benefit for the area and chance to bring the coast path to national standards."
Richard Chilcott, an agent for the Headland Hotel, said the hotel had several parking problems affecting its business growth and future viability.
He said: "We want to appeal to the coach tours market but the parking situation is restricting.
"The improvement would keep the hotel going.
"Coaches and cars will continue to park on the road which is dangerous."
However, members of the planning committee went with the officers' recommendation to refuse the application saying the Section 106 Agreement needed to be watertight and made in writing.
Cllr Pete Addis said he was anxious for this issue to be resolved and moved that the application be granted.
He said: "At the moment it is dangerous because coaches back right up.
"Local residents want this. Let's move forward."
Cllr Andrew Baldrey was also supportive of the hotel's plight.
He said: "We have an opportunity that we need to grasp."
Cllr Mark Kingscott said it was better to refuse the application now to continue negotiations with the hotels.
Cllr Mike Morey added: "I have a major problem signing off public land.
"I will support refusal because I want extra time to continue negotiations with the hotel."