ONE of Southampton’s best-known hotels could be shut down and turned into posh student digs and a cinema.
Plans to convert the Highfield House Hotel into a student complex featuring 144 beds, a gym and a cinema will go on display for the first time tomorrow at a public exhibition so local residents can have their say.
But people living near to the hotel in Highfield Lane say they are concerned, arguing that more student accommodation isn’t needed in the area.
There has been a hotel on the site since 1945. It has previously traded as the Cotswold Hotel, the Moat House Hotel, the County Hotel and finally Highfield House Hotel over the decades.
Before that, the site had been the home of well-known city music shop owner Henry Price Hodges, who had lived there until he died on the Titanic in 1912.
Now Galliard Homes, which has owned the land in Highfield Lane since 2006, has announced plans to refurbish the existing building and add an extension.
The building would then contain about 144 self-contained student rooms, each with a kitchenette and en-suite shower room.
The existing bar and restaurant alongside the hotel, Ceno, would be retained while a new internal courtyard area, gym and cinema would also be built.
Galliard Homes says the 17 full-time staff currently working at the hotel would be kept on to help run the student development, while discussions are ongoing with part-time staff.
A planning application could be handed in this autumn, and if that is approved construction work could start next spring.
Galliard Homes’ planning manager Peter Hadjidakis, said: “We are keen to hear the view of local residents, businesses and other interested parties and would encourage anyone who has a question or is interested in the proposals to come along and discuss the plans with us.”
But some residents living nearby have reacted angrily to the proposals.
Lisa Allen who lives in Shaftesbury Avenue, described it as a “really bad idea” adding that there is “a lot of student accommodation” in the area already.
Another resident who did not want to be named who lives near to the hotel, said: “It is a complete and utter nightmare, because if there are students there is usually a lot of noise.”
And Jerry Gillen, vice-chairman of Highfield Residents Association, said: “My main thought is that it would be a shame to lose such a good facility for accommodation and I understand that the hotel is trading profitably at this time.
“I have to say it has taken us by surprise.”
Cllr Paul O'Neill
Conservative ward city councillor Paul O’Neill, said: “I think it will be very understandable for local residents to be concerned at this proposal.
“The full details will need to be considered to see what impact they would have on the area, however my initial reaction is do we really need more student accommodation here?”
- The exhibition will take place at the Highfield Church Centre from 2.30 to 7.30pm on Thursday. Galliard Homes’ consultation on the proposals will run until August 8, and residents can give their views by calling Freephone 0800 1123540.