6th July 2012
I got a shock today when I was looking at the EDP website. Finding an article about Whitlingham I casually began reading; "Bold visions for the development of Whitlingham CP include everything from a spa and open air theatre to water lodges built on stilts around a new lake". Before this sunk in, I picked out the phrase "boutique hotel" from the next paragraph and was overcome with bemusement. You can read the whole article here (EDP website).
I later came back to the article and read it a bit more. It turns out there are three options being considered, with the brief appearing to be a novel building, weird accommodation of some sort and then extra other buildings or activities. The obvious question is "Why?" I have never heard a person go to a country park and say "well its nice, but if only there was a hotel built in the middle of it". Ditto the spa.
Here are the three options:
Option 1 - Feilden and Mawson say they were inspired by "the peace of the site" - and intend to shatter it with a high-level rope walk, mountain biking and a courtyard for cafes and workshops. They want either a spa or classical music venue, and three types of accommodation including timber pods built half into the ground.
Option 2 - Hudson Architects want to build a restaurant with training kitchen and retail outlets (which lets face it, sounds a bit like a town centre doesn't it). They would move the car park away from the broad, which is probably a good thing. Mr Hudson also suggests an orchard and wildlife-friendly planting, which is also good. He then somewhat spoils it by wanting an equestrian centre, conference centre, backpackers hostel and his wacky accommodation choice, "upmarket shepherd's huts"
Option 3 - LSI Architects want to "take advantage of the seclusion of the site" by building a boutique hotel (that sound you heard was a golden goose dying). They also want an amphitheatre, and their bonkers accommodation is tree houses and lodges built on stilts above a new lake.
There is a public display of these plans at the flint barn at Whitlingham, so I intend to go and find out more about this idea. It is only up for less that two weeks, which doesn't sound very promising if they are taking the public consultation seriously, but I'll go and have my say, and I would encourage anyone else who has an interest in Whitlingham to do the same.
Incidentally there were seven suggestions, and presumably these were the three "best" ones. If you can come up with one of the rejected options (remember the unwanted large building plus weird accommodation combo) then please comment with your ideas. I'm also setting up a poll to gauge other peoples views, so please vote in that too.