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Cantley Lodge Hotel latest business to be lost from Wokingham town centre

Published: 3 Feb 2014 09:300 comments

A WOKINGHAM hotel is set to shut because it will not be able to compete with the town’s new Premier Inn, its owner fears.

Cllr Maurice Monk

Cantley Lodge, a 25-room hotel, in Wellington Road, Wokingham, faces closure and could be demolished to make way for a sheltered housing complex.

The regeneration of Wokingham town centre includes plans for a 80-room Premier Inn at the corner of Wellington Road and Denmark Street.

Maurice Monk, who has owned the lease for Cantley Lodge since 2006, said: “I just know it would be impossible to compete with Premier Inn. I do think it’s sad the independents are going, Cantley Lodge has its own community and personality.”

McCarthy and Stone Retirement Lifestyles Ltd has applied to Wokingham Borough Council for planning permission to build sheltered housing comprising 32 private flats on the Cantley Lodge site.

The planning application statement outlines the effect that Premier Inn will have on business,

citing the “likely detrimental impact on its trading

position once the Premier Inn hotel is open for bus-

iness”, adding it would “cannibalise” any demand.

However, Mr Monk – who has also owned sister hotel Cantley House in Milton Road since 1980 and is a town councillor – said he backed the regeneration of Wokingham completely, and without it the town would die.

He added: “The regeneration is important to me, I think it’s desperate that it’s supported, otherwise Wokingham will disappear.”

It is hoped that the Premier Inn would open by the middle of 2016, though the council is currently reviewing its regeneration plans and has put its applications on hold.

Cllr Alistair Corrie, Wokingham Borough Council’s executive member for regeneration, added that he did not think big chains were pushing smaller independents out, but rather the opposite. He said: “By having something like a Premier Inn and all the advertising that provides, it should attract more people to come, increasing business.”

The Artsbar at Cantley Lodge is also the venue for MoreArts, the cultural partnership promoting the arts in Wokingham.

Cllr Gwynneth Hewet-son, chairwoman of MoreArts, said: “I understand, with the regeneration and everything, that it probably is sensible to move.

“We have very fond memories of the Lodge and we’re sad to see it go. We will keep our eyes open for more venues.”

Frequent exhibitions and shows are held there, and it currently features work from local artists Joy Frey and Christine Morgan.

Mrs Morgan said: “It will be a loss because it’s an excellent place to show our work, we will be very sad if it does go.” Mr Monk added he was looking into creating a space for art at Cantley House Hotel.

The Cantley Lodge site was turned from flats into a hotel in 1984 and Luff Developments Ltd owns the freehold to the site.

The application for sheltered housing can be viewed on the council website with reference F/2013/2582.

Deadline for comments is Thursday, February 13.

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