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Public inquiry to determine future of Grays Court Hotel in York
10:49am Wednesday 25th September 2013 in News
A PUBLIC inquiry next month is set to determine the future of an historic hotel near York Minster.
The owner of Grays Court Hotel says she is fighting a battle for survival after being issued with an enforcement notice by City of York Council, which she says would force the hotel to close.
Helen Heraty said she had appealed against the notice, and the matter was due to be examined during a two-day planning inquiry, to be held at the council’s West Offices HQ, on October 15 and 16.
The inquiry is the culmination of a long-running wrangle which has seen the authority issue an enforcement notice last year ordering the hotel to halt weddings and other dining functions and also close the tearoom by 9pm on all but two nights a month.
Officials claimed Mrs Heraty had been running an hotel in the Grade I listed building without planning permission and wanted her to submit a retrospective planning application.
Mrs Heraty claimed she had planning permission, and said such restrictions would ruin the business, questioning which wedding function could stop at 9pm.
The original notice was withdrawn in the spring because of “technical issues”, but a fresh one was issued in the summer, said Mrs Heraty.
She said she would strongly contest claims that the hotel was damaging the amenity of local residents and said that if she lost her appeal, the hotel’s 20 employees would lose their jobs and she would be homeless.
She said the hotel had proved very successful, and had won very good reviews.
The Press has previously reported neighbouring residents’ concerns about noise and disturbance from events at Grays Court, with the Minster’s Dean and Chapter claiming at one stage that the area’s relative tranquillity could be damaged.
Mrs Heraty has said noise levels were carefully and independently monitored to ensure neighbours were not disturbed.
Mike Slater, the council’s assistant director for city development and sustainability, said the existing use of Grays Court did not have planning permission.
He said the council had no objections in principle to the use. “However, despite our encouragement, the owner has not submitted an application,” he said.
“Unfortunately there are legal limitations on enforcement notices. In the absence of an application which would allow us to impose reasonable planning conditions on the use to protect the living conditions of local residents and the character and appearance of the conservation area, all we can do is require the uses to cease.”
He said: “At the public inquiry, our case to the inspector will be that he should grant planning permission for the use, subject to conditions.”