RETROSPECTIVE PLANS from a hotel in the Lake District to keep an outdoor seating area constructed in response to the pandemic have been given the go ahead.

Members of the development control committee for the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) approved plans for the Fisherbeck Hotel on Old Lake Road in Ambleside to retain an outdoor seating platform.

However a committee member warned he is ‘increasingly worried’ about hoteliers carrying out work without consulting the LDNPA.

Committee member Jim Jackson said: “I think again it would be much better coming to us before and not after. I am getting increasingly worried about the theme that I’m picking up about hoteliers in particular proceeding with developments in the park without consulting us in advance.

“I think increasingly personally I’ll find that unacceptable.”

The retrospective plans were brought to the committee as the Lakes Parish Council objected to the seating area.

The Lakes Parish Council state: “The retention of the outdoor seating platform will bring further harm to nearby residents as it has done all year. The elevated ‘seating area’ operates like a bar leading to several issues including noise and light pollution, overlooking neighbouring properties and is not in keeping with the local area which is classified as a conservation area which needs a sensitive approach.

“The operational development consisting of a first-floor bar is visually intrusive and appears incongruous in the conservation area of Ambleside and the wider location of the Lake District Heritage Site.

“The illuminated signage is oversized, visually obtrusive and undoubtedly not dark skies friendly. The development fails to adhere to local character and doesn’t conserve or enhance the area and its immediate surroundings. It is out of scale and nature appropriate to the character and function of the location in which it is proposed.”

However, planning officers state in a report prepared for the committee that they do not consider the seating platform has resulted in a ‘increased level of disturbance’ to the area.

The report says: “Given the seating area lies within an area of outside space used by the hotel, the location of the site within a rural service centre with a mixture of commercial and residential properties and the proximity of the busy A591,  I do not consider that the seating area has resulted in an increased level of disturbance beyond what might be considered as normal for a longstanding use of this nature.”

A planning statement from the applicant says the pandemic highlighted the ‘lack of outdoor space’ at the hotel.

It states: “The advent of the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the lack of outdoor space at the Fisherbeck Hotel and the vulnerability of its visitor offering if the public perception endured: threatening the sustainability of future bookings.

“In response to the patrons concerns the applicant installed a timber seating platform to maximise the potential of the outdoor space on the courtyard seating area at the front of the property.

“It has been designed and built to a high quality standard. The glass balustrading reduces the visual impact of its physical height. Together with the recently approved glass suites frontages it forms an attractive feature.”

Members of the development control committee approved the plans with conditions on sound and the height of objects on the seating area on February 7.