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Grays Court hotel public inquiry starts
THE future of an historic hotel near York Minster is set to be determined at a public inquiry which starts today.
The two-day hearing will consider an appeal by Helen Heraty, the owner of Grade I listed Grays Court, against an enforcement notice issued by City of York Council.
Mrs Heraty has said the notice would force the hotel to close, with the loss of 20 jobs, and she is facing a battle for survival at the inquiry, to be held at the authority’s West Offices headquarters.
The inquiry is the culmination of a long-running wrangle which saw the authority issue an original notice last year ordering the hotel to halt weddings and other dining functions and also close a tearoom by 9pm on all but two nights a month.
The council claimed there was no planning permission and wanted Mrs Heraty to submit a retrospective planning application.
Mrs Heraty claimed she already had planning permission and said she would strongly contest claims that the hotel was negatively impacting on local residents.
The council’s notice was withdrawn on a technicality in the spring, but then another was issued in the summer.
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.
Mike Slater, the council’s assistant director for city development and sustainability, said last month that the authority had no objections in principle to the use but, despite its encouragement, the owner had not submitted an application.
He said that in the absence of an application, which would allow the council to impose reasonable planning conditions to protect local residents’ living conditions and the conservation area’s character and appearance, all it could do was require the uses to cease.
He said the council would present a case to the inquiry inspector that he should grant planning permission for the use, subject to conditions.
Grays Court dates back in part to 1080 and was commissioned by the first Norman Archbishop of York to provide the official residence for the Treasurers of York Minster, the house has an unrivalled history.
James I dined at Grays Court with Edmund, Lord Sheffield, the Lord President of the North, and he knighted eight noblemen in the Long Gallery in one evening.
Sir Thomas Fairfax owned Grays Court between 1649 and 1663. Sir Thomas preceded Oliver Cromwell as Commander-in-Chief of the Parliamentary armies in the Civil War.
The 300m stretch of City Walls which bounds Grays Court was donated to the city in 1878 by Edwin Gray, the Lord Mayor of York.
This is why Grays Court retains the only private access to York’s City walls.