THE FATE of a former Romsey hotel could be decided by planning chiefs tomorrow.

As reported, a planning application was submitted to Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) to create two flats and a maisonette spanning across the first and second floor of the Abbey Hotel, Church Street.

The plan, submitted by property investor Brightbeech Property Limited, aims to create a two-bedroom house built at the back of the site, with zero car parking spaces.

If approved, the kitchen company, Kutchenhaus, could relocate into the ground floor of the property.

However, TVBC emphasised this move is not officially "part of the current application" and is being done under "development rights".

Now, the scheme could be approved by councillors on Tuesday, October 6 at TVBC's Southern Area Planning Committee.

This comes after the proposal was deferred on August 25 after councillors stressed at the Southern Area Planning Committee the lack of parking would not be suitable for future residents.

Community leaders refused the plans by nine votes to two, with councillors citing the following reasons: a loss of tourist accommodation in the town, no parking spaces could result in more pressure on off-street parking nearby and the conservation area could be negatively impacted.

However, case officer for TVBC, Paul Goodman, suggested to community leaders they defer the plans to allow them to "discuss with the applicant the ability to provide parking", adding he was "struggling with the three reasons for refusal, given the compelling evidence the applicant has given".

Cllr Alan Dowden, who represents Valley Park on the borough council, said at the meeting he thought it would be "useful to defer the plans" in an attempt to get some parking on the site.

He added: "There is the risk if we want to appeal then we will lose it."

Cllr John Parker, who represents the Romsey Tadburn ward, said: "It is the fact the Abbey Hotel is in an area, which is right for parking at the best of times.

"There is scope for increased pressure on that limited amount of off-street parking in the area and further afield in other residential streets within walking distance of the site."

Cllr Parker believed the flats would result in a "loss of tourist accommodation in the Romsey area".

He added councillors could not discuss the "impact it will have in the conservation area", due to not all "parts of the site" being included in the plans.

Director of Brightbeech Property Limited, Tim Lincoln, told the Romsey Advertiser he was "disappointed the planning committee ignored the planning officer's recommendation for approval of the application and initially proposed refusing the application".

He added: "We share the disappointment of the councillors that the building is no longer viable as a hotel, but given the extraordinary negative economic circumstances we are experiencing we had hoped that a proposal for substantial financial investment to a building that has been in disrepair for more than six years would have been welcomed."