6:12pm Friday 11th January 2013
By Wesley Rock
AN historic building will be demolished to make way for a Black Hole in the heart of Winchester.
Civic leaders have given the green light to plans for a nine-bedroom boutique hotel, to be named the Black Hole, adjoining the famous Black Boy pub on Wharf Hill.
The owner, David Nicholson, owns several other sites in the city, including the Black Rat and the Black Bottle.
Although not a listed building, The Old Forge on the crossroad of Wharf Hill and Chesil Street sits within a conservation area and would need to be destroyed, sparking debate at a recent meeting of planning bosses.
There were unusual scenes at the meeting as a member of the council staff, Colin Veal, speaking as the only resident to object, sought to block the move – causing cllr Therese Evans to question whether the proposals should have been brought before the committee.
“I feel this will enhance the conservation area and tourism. Only one member of the public has complained and the building is not a listed building,” she said.
Mr Veal said: “It includes a tower that would be twice the size of the Black Boy pub.”
Amid bizarre scenes, Mr Veal was supported by a member of the public, Mrs Anne McWilliams, who had to be asked to remain quiet as she interrupted proceedings by shouting from the back.
Mrs McWilliams was later invited to speak, sharing her historical knowledge of the site and successfully persuading planning bosses to request that developers include a plaque to mark the site of the Old Forge.
Planning experts recommended councillors approve the B&B on the basis that Winchester needs more tourist accommodation and that the designs were in keeping with the area.
Giving his approval, Cllr Barry Lipscomb said: “The City of Winchester Trust has not objected to this proposal and one can take some satisfaction from that.”
Speaking on behalf of Mr Nicholson, Hugh Thomas said: “David Nicholson has added a lot to Winchester. He really does add to the city with his imagination.”
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