SIR: Not only do I support the idea of a budget hotel for Winchester, I support the idea of a youth hostel and a camp site too - things we used to have.

All would mean younger or perhaps more adventurous people - or simply less well-heeled - could stay to enjoy our lovely city.

Hampshire County Council’s refurbishment of Ashburton Court a few years ago shows how well an unexciting concrete building - such as Next - can be improved, and it’s a much greener approach than demolition and rebuild. But the current application for the Next building is disingenuous.

It says: “The proposal is for the demolition and replacement of the existing facades on both the High Street and Market Lane frontages. It also includes a change of use of the first and second floor retail and roof void areas into 62 bedroom hotel.” Nothing about adding an extra storey. It’s not clear from the application drawings that there actually is a roof void, but on the Market Lane frontage particularly the new building suddenly gains nearly 3m at parapet height and then 7m to the new ridge level. On the High Street façade the increase is less than 3m, but that’s a lot of new building. (And the fact that there are so many levels suggests an unduly complex building - although the light well is extremely welcome).

The retail units on the High Street are unconvincing, with so many struggling high street names already. But what strikes me most is that Debenhams, next door, is a rather good building - or several, united by a very good run of glazing. And Debenhams is famously struggling. Losing such a major component of the High Street would be a huge blow.

Couldn’t the council bring the hotel developers and Debenhams estates people together and suggest that the eastern block of Debenhams should form part of the hotel, instead of adding to the height of ex-Next?

Judith Martin,

Romsey Road,