Ocean Village Hotel and Flats Approved

Proposed New Hotel - Up ClosePlans to build a hotel at Ocean Village have this week been approved by Southampton City Council (you can read more about the background of this development on our ‘Big Issues’ page). The 76 bedroom hotel, now being provisionally named as the ‘Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa’, will be built on the existing promontory at Ocean Village, the finger of land which protrudes out into the marina roughly in front of the Harbour Lights Cinema. It will also provide a spa, gym and swimming pool. The ground floor will include a large open-plan lounge, restaurant and bar area which will extend out onto a terrace at the end of the promontory, and up on top will be a ‘champagne roof terrace’. Twelve two-bedroom apartments will also be incorporated into the hotel building.

The second phase of the development will see the separate development of 82 residential flats across three buildings – six, eight and ten storeys high – being built on top of the existing surface car park. These flats will sit above an arcade facing the marina waterfront consisting of a mix of restaurants, cafes, shops and offices. A new marina office is also envisioned. Parking for the residents of this development will be located under the building.

Parking for the hotel and for existing visitors to Ocean Village will be provided in the existing 776 space multi-level Ocean Car Park on Ocean Way. The car park was originally built with a view to provide for existing car parking requirements displaced by the loss of the existing surface car parks, and to provide sufficient additional car parking for the users of any new developments on the same land. Since permission was formerly granted for a 224 bedroom hotel and this is only a 76 bedroom hotel it is anticipated that the Ocean Car Park will provide sufficient parking spaces.

“We are delighted with today’s decision which will enable us to deliver the final stage of the master plan for Ocean Village Marina, and most importantly create a vibrant waterfront destination for the city,” said Eamonn Feeney, Managing Director of MDL Marinas Group.

Chairman of Nicolas James Group, the developer, Nicolas Roach added: “Southampton city lacks a five star hotel product. We intend to bring a luxury waterfront hotel and spa to the city, along with our award winning Jetty restaurant concept.”

It is anticipated that work on the project will commence in the Autumn of 2012.

According to the Daily Echo:

Councillors on Southampton City Council’s planning committee praised the “exquisite” and “exciting” development, six out of the seven, voting in favour of it. Gavin Hall, director of planning at Savills, the planning agents for the developers told the committee that this development would “bring the life back” into Ocean Village and be the realisation of a long held ambition for the area. He added that work would wait until after the Olympics and start in the autumn. The project is expected to be completed within three years.

Councillor Edward Osmond said: “I strongly welcome this development. It is long overdue. It will be a major attraction for people both within Southampton and outside. This is a great scheme.”

However Councillor Carol Cunio voted against the scheme. She said: “I am not that happy with this scheme. I think it is too much building. We already have empty restaurants and flats on the other side, so I just don’t see the point.”

Council leader Royston Smith said: “This without question underlines the confidence of investors and developers in Southampton; that this is the place they want to come to.

“It will finally finish off Ocean Village and in doing so create hundreds of jobs.”

We have provided below some extracts from the planning approval document (edited where necessary to make them more concise and readable) which may be of interest. The original document is very lengthy and we have endeavoured to pull out general comments of interest to the wider community. A number of residents and visitors to our site have previously raised a number of concerns and some of these are discussed, though not necessarily addressed, in the extracts below. It seems, for example, that the existing ducks and fish in the ponds by Harbour Lights will not be accommodated in the new development and there remains some confusion over the number of affordable flats to be provided, this being subject to some further review prior to the actual number being determined.

Planning Document Extracts

The hotel building would range in height from 5-storeys to 7-storeys. The hotel building also incorporates 12 two-bedroom flats. Drop-off facilities for the hotel would be provided off of Maritime Walk on the north side of the building and 24 short stay car parking spaces for guests, etc. would be provided opposite the hotel on the west side of Maritime Walk. Longer term car parking for hotel guests and visitors will be within the multi-storey car park which serves the whole Ocean Village estate and is situated on the west side of Ocean Way. The proposed external materials for the hotel are to be: predominantly glazed curtain walling in a silver coated or anodised aluminium frame; a bronze coloured screen of regularly spaced laminate strip slats fixed to a metal frame; silver coated aluminium panels to form terrace guarding and parapets and spandrel panels; frameless glass balustrading to roof terrace; and a full height bronze coloured screen to the roof top plant enclosure.

The proposed apartment buildings on the site of the existing car park would be in three parts, a 6-storey part on the south side, a central 8-storey element and at the northern end a 10-storey building with roof top plant above. This building would provide 82 flats (75 x two bedroom and 7 x three bedroom units) together with commercial space at upper ground floor level. These units would provide a total gross external floorspace of 1,139 square metres which includes a marina office of 87 square metres floorspace and three units which would be available for any of the ‘A’ Use Classes (shops, professional offices, restaurants/cafes, bars or hot food take-aways) and/or Class B1 (business use). The lower ground floor of this building would provide car parking, cycle parking and refuse facilities. Car parking for the residential element would comprise 66 spaces at lower ground floor level and 14 on-street spaces with 88 cycle parking spaces. The external materials for this building would be mainly precast architectural concrete stone; a bronze coloured, laminate rainscreen panel; metal framed balconies with timber decking and glass balustrades; and windows with anodised aluminium frames.

It is proposed to reconfigure the existing pedestrian route between the office buildings to provide an enhanced approach from the Ocean Car Park to the new hotel. This will involve infilling the existing water features and providing new hard and soft landscaping including sloping lawn areas and new tree planting as well as new canopies to provide weather protection. It is intended that this space would be used by office workers during lunchtimes as well as providing more flexible areas where events can be staged. The area to the north of the residential block, where it adjoins the Admirals Quay development, is an area of space described as a ‘Welcome Plaza’ which would be available for events, both marina related and specialist market/product launches as well as external seating for restaurants, etc. Adjoining the commercial frontage would be a marina raised deck approximately 1.2 metres above the marina walkway level which would provide external restaurant seating and an events/public viewing area across the marina. Between the residential building and the hotel the forecourt would be a mixed pedestrian and vehicle space with guest drop-off facilities and servicing/delivery arrangements for the hotel. The terraces to the hotel on the promontory would be mainly a private amenity space for guests of the hotel and staff as well as spaces that provide function opportunities for events being held in the marina.

The comments opposing the application can be summarised as follows:

  • The proposed development, when combined with the recent approval for Admiral’s Quay, could result in a significant traffic impact on the area.
  • The car parking provision is inadequate and well below the Council’s standards with an element of the provision being on-street. This will produce significant parking overspill which will inevitably encroach on the adjoining private roads including the Pacific Close estate. To prevent such parking overspill a planning condition should be imposed to erect gates across the point of entry to the Pacific Close estate.
  • The proposal results in a significant loss of open space for the Ocean Village marina and replacement with a series of smaller open spaces which are designed to suit the adjoining commercial operators but the public benefits of these areas is minimal. The proposed ‘Welcome Plaza’ would be a residual and unattractive space. There is concern that events such as the annual Sports Boat and RIB Show and race starts such as the Clipper round the world race will be discouraged from using the marina due to the loss of usable areas of open space.
  • The existing ponds should be retained, they are unique in this part of the city centre, provide a place of relaxation for both residents and office staff and are home to ducks and fish. This is one of the few truly family friendly features of the Ocean Village estate. Replacing the ponds with just a grassed area will reduce the amenity of the area.
  • Wider improvements to the public realm, including feature lighting and waste bin provision, should be sought.
  • The proposed landscaping changes and inclusion of canopies could result in congregations of large numbers of people and potential anti-social behaviour.
  • The residential/commercial building does not satisfactorily address Maritime Walk as it turns its back on to the street and will create an undesirable ‘back of house’ effect.
  • The location of the hotel would effectively split the marina into two and result in a loss of views.
  • The proposal would create sub-standard flats, with limited privacy between balconies and the creation of a large number of single-aspect north-facing flats.
  • There would be a loss of sunlight/daylight to the directly adjoining office building and a loss of view across the marina.
  • There is a restrictive covenant on the car park part of the site which limits the maximum height to the eaves of any structures to 2.9 metres.
  • To safeguard the amenities and operational requirements of adjoining businesses, it is reasonable to limit noise/vibration during construction, retention of utility provisions, the condition of the site, safety and access arrangements.

The comments supporting the application are as follows:

  • The design of the proposed hotel is very attractive and in keeping with the maritime setting.
  • The height and overall scale of the hotel is in keeping with the neighbouring block of flats and the properties around the marina.
  • This high quality waterfront hotel would considerably enhance Ocean Village and provide much needed additional hotel accommodation in Southampton.

Planning Consideration Key Issues

As the scheme comprises 94 dwellings in total the affordable housing requirement from the proposed development is 35% The affordable housing requirement is therefore 33 dwellings. A financial viability appraisal of the development has been submitted and is in the process of being independently assessed. The applicant has made it clear that no affordable housing provision will be possible.

The application proposes significant alterations to the public realm in Ocean Village. The existing water features between the office buildings look quite dated and the applicant is seeking to upgrade this space as a more welcoming approach to the new hotel. Local residents have objected to the removal of these water features but there are no policy reasons which would justify opposing these changes. There is a concern that the amount of site coverage with the new buildings would reduce the amount of space available for large scale public events at Ocean Village. However, the applicant has provided a certain amount of evidence to demonstrate that, although smaller, a range of different scale exhibition and public events could still be accommodated in conjunction with the marina. Indeed the hotel would provide a range of function facilities which would complement marina related events and the new commercial units, with large areas of public assembly space, should add to the vitality of Ocean Village as a whole.

The nearest residential neighbours to the application site are on the south side of the marina at Tasman Close and on the former boatyard site. These neighbours would not be directly affected by the development in terms of loss of light or overshadowing and their outlook would not be affected to the same degree as would have resulted from implementation of the much larger hotel previously approved. Several of the businesses in the existing office buildings have made representations against the development on the grounds of loss of light and views, the restrictive covenant and disturbance during the construction process. In response to these concerns, there is no right to a view of the marina and the terms of a covenant is not a planning matter. Loss of sunlight and daylight to a commercial property is not such an important consideration as would be the case for a residential neighbour.

In terms of car parking provision, the new parking standards seek a maximum of one space per two bedroom flat and a maximum of 2 spaces for three bedroom flats. The level of parking provision for the proposed residential building is one space per unit which is only marginally below the maximum standards and therefore is considered to be acceptable.The existing surface level visitor car parking would be transferred to the Ocean Way multi-storey car park which will mean there will be no net loss of visitor car parking at Ocean Village. In terms of the representations from the Pacific Close residents, this is essentially a management issue as the roads in Ocean Village are privately owned and managed by the applicant. There is no evidence to suggest that guests or visitors to the hotel would overspill into Pacific Close which is over 400 metres by road from the site of the hotel.

The proposed development offers significant regeneration benefits to this part of the city centre. The application site is predominantly car parking which does not make best use of this waterfront setting. This development would enhance Ocean Village as a visitor attraction, incorporate public realm enhancements and provide both jobs (an estimated 100 full time equivalent jobs) and new housing.

Planning Conditions

  • 01. Full Permission Timing Condition – Physical works
    The development works hereby permitted shall begin not later than three years from the date on which this planning permission was granted.
  • 04. Hours of work for Demolition / Clearance / Construction [Performance Condition]
    All works relating to the demolition, clearance and construction of the development hereby granted shall only take place between the hours of;
Monday to Friday 08:00 hours to 18:00 hours (8.00am to 6.00pm)
Saturdays 09:00 hours to 13:00 hours (9.00am to 1.00pm)
    And at no time on Sundays and recognised public holidays.
Any works outside the permitted hours shall be confined to the internal preparations of the buildings without audible noise from outside the building, unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority.
  • 17. Hours of Use – food/drink establishments [Performance Condition]
    The food and drink uses / drinking establishments hereby permitted shall not operate, (meaning that customers shall not be present on the premises, no sale or delivery of food or drink for consumption on or off the premises), outside the hours of 0730 to midnight on any day.
  • 18. Delivery times (Performance Condition)
    No deliveries to the commercial premises or to the hotel hereby approved shall take place outside the hours of 0730 to midnight on any day.
  • 35. Phasing of development (Pre-occupation Condition)
    The residential accommodation hereby approved shall not be first occupied until the hotel building has been completed and is available for use, unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

Summary

Subject to items [highlighted in bold in original document], the proposals offer a suitable scale and quality of development that will significantly enhance the legibility and ‘sense of place’ of Ocean Village as one of the few locations in the city where currently the public can enjoy the waterfront. The hotel promises to lift the overall impression of Ocean Village with its strong maritime styling and a fitting venue for maritime events and celebrations where one will be able to enjoy the waterfront from one of its many terraces. Much work has been put into the design of the residential block by the architects, working closely with Southampton City Council officers, and the resultant design is a well mannered and fitting response to a challenging set of constraints that will sit in harmony with the hotel and proposed development at Admiral’s Quay. Tall Building Guidance requires that tall buildings should be of ‘excellent design quality’ – these proposals promise to meet this criteria but this will hinge on the highest quality glazing, cladding and balcony materials and fittings etc being used as well as excellent architectural detailing.

A key requirement of any new proposal on the promontory and along Maritime Walk is that it should contribute to and enhance the existing development mix. The proposal does this by providing an almost continuous frontage of commercial uses that along with the proposed development at Admiral’s Quay will extend the existing uses of cafes and restaurants, via a linear promenade around a further two sides of the marina basin including the promontory, creating a greater critical mass, improved offer and a backdrop for maritime events and marina activities. The increased footfall anticipated by the proposed hotel and residential uses will help sustain the commercial uses in the vicinity.

The redesign of existing landscape features and ponds on the approach from the multi-storey car park make a significant contribution to refreshing what has become a ‘tired’ public realm. This route has been rationalised, providing a more direct link to the hotel from the car park, with new tree planting proposed, new raised grassed beds and a new linear canopy that lines the north edge of this route. This will also improve visual connections with the hotels west elevation and still provide glimpses of the marina activity. The route crosses a raised ‘shared space’ crossing of the access road Maritime Walk creating a convenient and accessible route for pedestrians. The public art should integrate with an overall strategy for the marina, and that proposed on this route needs to be carefully commissioned so that it does not appear as ‘art on a pedestal’ but art that has some proper function and association with the history or current functions of Ocean Village.

Conditions should require new paving, lamp posts, signing and street furniture to be coordinated with the public realm specification for the first phases of the Wilson Bowden scheme where possible. Existing quayside railings and lamp posts should be repainted from their blue colour to a neutral silver or grey colour if they are not to be replaced.

If you would like further information take a look a the full planning committee notes.