CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a Premier Inn in a Falmouth car park were recommended for approval at a bad tempered meeting of the town council’s planning committee on Monday evening.

The proposals have split the community, with fears over the effect of the development on parking in the area, and of its impact on local hotels and B&Bs all raised by objectors.

However, many local residents have welcomed the plans, citing a lack of budget hotel accommodation in the town at present.

If they go ahead, the proposals will see a 74-bedroom hotel built on the site of the Campbeltown Way car park near Events Square.

Original plans for the development were withdrawn last year after concerns were raised over the design of the new hotel and its impact on parking and traffic in the area.

At Monday’s meeting, a spokesman for New Cornwall Developments, the company behind the plans, addressed the committee, and explained that traffic assessments undertaken by the company had shown the hotel would have little or no impact on parking issues in the town centre.

He also insisted the hotel would not impact on local hotels and B&Bs.

He said: “Our business is for one or two night stays, you do not go and stay in a Premier Inn for a holiday.

He added: “Premier Inn is not looking for a slice of the existing cake, they will bring their own to the town instead.”

Rosemary Ridette-Gregory of the Fal and District Hotelliers Association spoke against the plans on behalf of a group of 20 protestors at the meeting.

She disputed the parking findings, saying the loss of spaces coupled with an extra 74 rooms at the hotel would lead to problems for both drivers and pedestrians, and said the new hotel would be an overdevelopment of the site.

She told the committee: “We are not experts in planning law, but we are the people who love our town as it is; unique, vibrant and different to other towns.

“People love visiting Falmouth and we are trusting you to make sure it stays that way.”

Councillors said that the competition the hotel may pose local businesses could not be taken into account under planning law.

Councillor Charlie Choak said: “As far as competition is concerned, I cannot control any other pasty shops opening in the town, over the years many have opened and I can do nothing about it – that is competition. In my view, Premier Inn have done a very good job in addressing the problems in the original plans.

“The only objections are on the grounds of competition, and you can’t do anything about that.”

Councillor Diana Merrett, chairman of the committee, said: “I have been through the paperwork with a fine toothcomb.

“You can only consider material planning considerations and there is nothing in there which would allow us to refuse these plans.”

“If we did say no, they would take it to appeal and it would cost the council a lot of money.”

Councillors voted unanimously to support the plans, prompting an angry reaction from the assembled protestors.

The plans will now go before Cornwall Council before a final decision is made.

A poll conducted by the Packet last week showed how the hotel plans have divided the Falmouth community.

With more than 550 votes received, 57 per cent were against the proposals, with 43 per cent in favour of seeing the hotel built.