Owners of listed hotels in Old Town seek retroactive permission for student accommodation


The use of a Grade II listed hotel in the Old Town as student accommodation could be formalized if a new planning application is approved.

The owners of the Bell Hotel in the High Street are already using rooms in the building to house students, but they have applied to Swindon Borough Council for retrospective approval of the change of use.

The application filed indicates that the building is already being used to house students, and that this is more viable than the approved use as a hotel: “The building previously operated as a hotel but is currently used for student accommodation.

“The existing hotel has had limited success due to the level of competition in the area and the lack of real on-site facilities. While student accommodation proved to be a successful and viable use for the building.

He adds: “Due to the similar spatial requirements, the change in use did not alter the exterior appearance of the building or the interior layout.

“This nomination in no way seeks to alter the existing building fabric and instead has converted what was previously a declining hotel business into thriving student accommodation, the proposal should be seen as making a positive contribution to the conservation of the properties heritage.”

Plans show 40 study rooms spread over three floors. Those on the upper floor are adjoining, while those on the first floor share a shower room and toilet between two bedrooms.

On the ground floor are eight study rooms with a toilet block of four cubicles and a separate block of four shower cubicles available. There are kitchen and laundry facilities created as part of the plans, as well as a common area and outdoor area.

A Change of Use Approval is required if a property owner wishes to make a material change to the use of a building. This is to prevent a developer from obtaining permission for a used building, say a hotel, and then converting the building into apartments, for example, which may be more profitable, when a request for construction apartments may not have been approved.

It is not necessary to obtain a planning permit before a change of use or the construction of a new building, but this risks being refused and having to return to the original use or to tear down the building.

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