Residents of Carbis Bay in Cornwall say they feel “duped and deceived” by plans for a new hotel.
There are already newly-built apartments there, which were approved as being for people aged over 55.
But a fresh proposal has been made for them to become a hotel instead.
St Ives Town Council, which effectively banned second homes in the area, fears a planning application by Oceanview Carbis Bay Ltd could be a way of allowing holiday homes through the “back door”.
Plans to convert the block of 37 residential apartments into an aparthotel with a concierge service, gym and catering facilities have been recommended for approval by Cornwall Council’s planning department.
The residential apartments, which are on the site of the former Cottage Hotel, on Boskerris Road, have proved hard to sell.
If approved, the aparthotel would operate like a traditional hotel but provide apartments rather than rooms for use as guest accommodation.
The existing approved residential use of the property is subject to restrictions limiting its occupancy to people aged over 55.
It's on the basis that all the apartments are used as the individual occupier’s principal residence.
This is in line with a “principal residence” condition in the sale of new-build properties which was introduced in the St Ives area in 2016.
The Policy H2 section of the St Ives Area Neighbourhood Development Plan aimed to curb the influx of second homes, while providing more affordable housing for locals.
Cornwall Council planners argue that another policy in the neighbourhood development plan supports new catered accommodation, such as the aparthotel.
However, concerns have been raised by residents, St Ives Town Council and Cornwall Council’s own leader.
Cllr Linda Taylor, who is leader as well as divisional member for the area, said: “Part of the justification for the original approval was that the development provided much-needed housing for local people.
"Parking and usage of the proposed development may well have different impacts than would be the case for over-55s residential accommodation.
"It’s important that residents’ voices are heard in the assessment of the proposal.”
The town council, which objects to the proposal, said: "It would lead to the loss of much-needed residential accommodation and does not accord with the aims of policy H2 of the St Ives Neighbourhood Plan.
"Although policy LED8 of the neighbourhood plan supports the provision of managed hotel accommodation, the council is concerned about the limited provision of facilities at the site.
"The council also questions whether in the round they represent and demonstrate sufficiently that the proposal is a managed hotel site and not second homes/self-contained holiday accommodation by the back door.”
A number of residents have written comments objecting to the proposals on Cornwall Council’s online planning register.
Julian Cowans said: “This was given permission for permanent housing for over-55s, so this is quite a change of use especially given the local housing crisis.”
“This monstrosity that has been built on the site of the old Cottage Hotel was approved to over-55s accommodation, where have these disappeared to?
"Would Cornwall Council give approval for this proposal from the outset or is this just a way to get this application through?
"It is a total blot on the landscape. I have never known a building site change usage like this one, totally underhand,” added David Owen.
Janice Smith wrote: “There were no objections to the applicant’s previous planning applications.
"This is because these planning applications led residents to believe that this development would be used as housing for people aged over 55.
"[This application] shows that this is not the case. Residents therefore, quite rightly, feel duped and deceived.”
“The principal residence restriction was put in place because the St Ives area has an oversupply of holiday lets and this is having a detrimental impact on residential housing supply,” said Michael Dinham.
"So it is ironic that this proposal not only replaces residential housing supply with holiday lets but will also have to ensure that the apartments remain as holiday lets (and it will be interesting to see how that is achieved).”
Ms L Koso wrote: “This bait and switch manoeuvre is very dangerous. Support was garnered for the original proposal specifically because it offered full-time retirement homes.
"These properties have been offered for sale for squillions, not sold, and now the developers seem to be arguing that there is no market for them. Totally unethical and unreasonable.”
Saying it sets a “dangerous precedent”, she added: “Other developers will rely on this ruling and exacerbate the demise of another Cornish community.
"This plan will turn a wasted space into a heaving boil within a quiet residential area. I urge the council to resist such bully-boy tactics and refuse this application.”
Karen Eidukas added: “To turn around its ultimate use from homes for over-55s to an aparthotel is quite frankly insulting. We do not need or want this in Carbis Bay.
"This is actually a residential area. The developers would be better off changing it to affordable apartments so that at least it’s of benefit to the local area.”
The council’s west sub-area planning committee will make a decision on 18 September.
Credit: Lee Trewhela, Local Democracy Reporter