Residents create campaign group in battle against Fairmont Hotel in Englefield Green

A new campaign group has been created to stop a billionaire-owned hotel chain from setting a “dangerous planning precedent in Englefield Green”.
Fairmont Hotel (image Runnymede Planning Portal)Fairmont Hotel (image Runnymede Planning Portal)
Fairmont Hotel (image Runnymede Planning Portal)

Greenbelt Watch is trying to become a community interest group and has created a petition calling on Runnymede Borough Council to “enforce planning laws” to save precious open space.

Their aim is to stop the Fairmont Hotel from offsetting its overdeveloped site “in exchange for demolishing something miles away”.

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The Arora Group, which has admitted to the hotel being more than two thousand square metres larger than it should be, was served with an enforcement notice last year to tear down the luxury retreat.

It hopes to avoid that and has submitted a new planning application to knock down the Parkwood Estate, which it argues would improve green belt openness in the borough.

Tina Dallman, one of the campaigners, said: “Our main goal is to find a solution. We’re not saying tear down the hotel, but what the solution is we don’t know yet – we will work with our solicitors and the council.“Whatever the solution is – it has to be strong enough to stop anyone else from doing it. We can’t just roll over and have our tummies tickled.”

Hopes of a speedy resolution look slim after the council said the petition was “unlikely to be valid” as the borough did not “have the power to make anyone withdraw planning applications”.

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The council also reiterated that planning laws require applications to be considered on their individual merits.

According to the application, the Fairmont Hotel, takes up 2,868 square metres of additional and unauthorised floor area, for which the Arora Group, who managed the property, has apologised.

Its bid to offset green belt land is likely to be determined in the coming months and has already received representations both in favour of and against the application.

There are also further enforcement notices and planning applications on site, complicating the matter.

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A spokesperson for the council said: “It is unlikely that these other enforcement cases or the planning application for the treehouses and sports facilities will formally progress further until a decision has been made on the main hotel application.

“This is because the approach that would need to be taken to these cases is dependent upon the outcome of this application, and so the council will need certainty either way before deciding how or if to progress any other matters.

“This is entirely in line with the council’s adopted enforcement charter and good planning enforcement practice.

“The council of course continues to investigate the enforcement requests, however it will not make any further enforcement decisions until the decision on the main hotel building has been made by the planning committee.

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“There is no risk of the treehouses or sports facilities acquiring immunity through passage of time, and further decisions are not time critical.

“If a residents’ campaign group wishes to seek their own legal or planning advice then that is their prerogative to do so.

“The council will continue to consider these planning matters in line with its adopted policies and consider applications on their individual merits.”

An Arora Group spokesperson said its objective with the applications is to resolve “the current planning situation while maintaining operations at the world class hotel we have built and which provides employment and wider economic benefits to the area”.

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