Historic Windsor hotel gets permission to install ‘cluttered’ outdoor seating area

A listed Windsor hotel may retain its controversial outdoor seating, despite claims it doesn’t match the area’s ‘prestige’.

The Castle Hotel, on the town’s main street, installed additional seating last April along the building and forms part of its pavement arch, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

That decision has now been narrowly approved in retrospect by the board planners of its Windsor and Ascot Development Management Committee.

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As the seating area is in a conservation area, parts of it were under threat of being removed after planning officers initially turned down the scheme.

they said the structure has a ‘negative’ impact on the setting of the listed building and makes the causeway arch look ‘cluttered and incongruous’.

But Eton and Castle Ward Councilor Samantha Rayner ‘called’ the candidacy of panel members to determine her fate, believing Windsor’s economic regeneration, Covid safety and tourism outweigh that.

Speaking at the meeting on Wednesday January 5, Sam Goss, general manager of the Castle Hotel in the High Street, said it made the area more “vibrant” and “improved” High Street.

Cllr Julian Sharpe, who put forward a motion to refuse the plans, criticized the ‘shabby’ seating area for looking more like a temporary structure rather than something to be made permanent.

He said: “I think right now to make it a permanent structure, I’d like to see the business come back with something of a much higher heritage quality that would serve the same needs and uses, but would actually improve the conservation area itself, which I don’t think it’s doing right now.

He also feared it would set a precedent for other businesses in Windsor High Street to put up ‘similar’ and ‘low quality’ structures.

‘Do not come back’

Cllr Amy Tisi said it ‘doesn’t fit with the prestige of the area’ given it is opposite the Guild House and close to the castle.

But Cllr John Bowden, who put forward a proposal for endorsement against the officers’ recommendations, felt the damage to heritage buildings was ‘less than substantial’ and agreed with Cllr Rayner that economic regeneration outweighs that damage .

The two motions were evenly split regarding votes where the chair had the deciding vote.

Cllr David Cannon used his vote from the President to approve the plans against the officer’s recommendations.

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