Letter: Could plans for Priory Bay Hotel involve the destruction of scarce ancient woodland?

This reader from Seaview says the plans to build 16 high-end houses on the grounds of Priory Bay Hotel could lead to the destruction of what’s believed to be ancient woodland.

Priory Bay Hotel :

We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers – unsurprisingly they don’t always reflect the views of this publication. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch and of course, your considered comments are welcome below. This from a reader in Seaview who would prefer to remain anonymous. Ed

Are you aware of the proposed development at the Priory Bay Hotel, Seaview?

The hotel, with its beautiful setting, should be a jewel in the economy of East Wight, bringing employment and tourism into the area, but – as he stated in the planning application – in the 17 years since he bought it, the gentleman hotel owner, Andrew Palmer, has failed to make it a viable business – not entirely surprising when (as far as I know) he has no training as a hotelier (his previous business was The New Covent Garden Soup Company which he and his brother sold for millions in the 1990s).

Destruction of ‘scarce ancient woodland’
He is now proposing to build 16 high-end houses (no affordable housing at all) in the grounds of the hotel to raise money to refurbish the hotel and, so he says, to make it viable.

Leaving aside my view of Mr Palmer’s ability to make any hotel business viable, the housing development would involve the destruction of scarce ancient woodland and the tearing up of a bridle path (part of the official Coastal Path) to convert into a road which would take all the traffic to the hotel and to half of the houses.

Where the problems lie
It’s hard to know where to start with what’s wrong with this proposal, but here goes:

  • There would be nothing to stop Mr Palmer building the houses and then failing to put the proceeds into the hotel
  • Nettlestone and Seaview have precious little woodland. The destruction of this patch of woodland (to the south of the hotel) would be a severe loss of amenity to the parish.
  • Furthermore, there’s reason to believe that this is ancient woodland (though there may not be time to officially establish this – can any of your followers help with this?).
  • The proposal talks about “landscaping” around the houses, but I believe what is really intended, is the felling of most of the trees, many of which are extremely old.
  • The Coastal Path is a vital asset to the Island, bringing ramblers and tourism, as well as being much used by residents, horse riders and dog walkers.
  • The destruction of this beautiful length of bridle path to form a road would be a severe loss of an important amenity. And it’s completely unnecessary. There is nothing wrong with the existing access road – except that it would pass in front of eight of the new houses.

Please alert your family and friends to this threat and urge them to get their objections in to the Council’s Planning Website before the deadline of Friday 8th August.

Have your say
Full details can be found on the Isle of Wight Planning website (references: LBC/22454/L, P/00790/14 and TCPL/22454/M, P/00789/14)

Image: annabelfarleyphotographyunder CC BY ND-2.0

Tuesday, 5th August, 2014 12:09pm


ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2cbv

Filed under: Bembridge, Letter to the Editor, Planning, Seaview

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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9 Comments on "Letter: Could plans for Priory Bay Hotel involve the destruction of scarce ancient woodland?"

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Steve Goodman

Might it be possible to keep the woodland (a good red squirrel habitat) & path, and make money, by building the type of high-end treehouses &/or woodland accommodation that people pay to stay in elsewhere?

kevin barclay-jay
firstly…what is your qualification to say this man …who has had the hotel for 17 years, can’t run a hotel? Secondly the hotel trade on the Ilsand is in nose dive, we have too many beds available for too few tourists, maybe that is the major contribution to its problems? thirdly…would you rather the hotel was knocked down and the whole area be housing, or as is… Read more »

I don’t know anything about the hotel business but I do know that the woodland in question is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Doc Reader

The owners says himself in the planning docs that he hasn’t been able to make the hotel viable in all the years he’s run it.

Kevin Barclay-Jay

There are plenty of people who have run hotels for generations who are going out of business on the Island


And the best option our prospective Labour parliamentary candidate can offer is ‘let them cut down trees and build houses on a SSSI to prop up their failure to compete’?

What a fascinating approach to the Island’s economy and the tourist trade.


Robert Jones
Kevin is not the prospective Parliamentary Labour candidate, unless there’s been a palace revolution of which I’m unaware (and there hasn’t). Leaving that aside, I’m unaware of Mr Palmer’s expertise or otherwise as an hotelier, but this is a bad idea – the last thing the island needs is “high end houses” on any greenfield site, least of all on a SSI (incidentally, as a commercial proposition… Read more »
Mick Lyons

Houses – but nothing that Islanders will be able to afford to live in. The destruction of an attractive bridle path used by walkers as well as horse riders. Who benefits? Who loses out? This sounds like a bad development to me Kevin.


This is a charming hotel with a lovely intimate yet elegant atmosphere, set in wonderful surroundings. The food can be amazing. It owes everything to its special setting, and if the profits are solely put into the hotel, without grandiose expectations, surely it can continue without habitat destruction? Or is grandiose the only way to go nowadays.