A controversial proposal to convert a historic Southampton hotel into student accommodation has been recommended for approval by council officers.

The application for Dolphin Hotel would see the Grade II*-listed building provide 99 bedrooms for students.

Dolphin Hotel Property Limited’s plans attracted more than 20 objections during a public consultation.

Four councillors, tourism groups, resident groups and the Hampshire Branch of the Jane Austen Society voiced their opposition to the scheme.

The literary great was one of the famous guests in the hotel’s past, which reportedly also included Queen Victoria and Admiral Lord Nelson.

The applicant has said they will create a museum or interpretation centre in the building dedicated to the Pride and Prejudice author.

Members of Southampton City Council’s planning committee will debate the change of use plans for the High Street site at a meeting on Tuesday, July 9.

Objections came from as far afield as an American independent bookshop owner.

Questions have been raised over the applicant’s claim that the hotel was no longer viable, while other responses said the hotel was an important heritage site that attracts visitors to the city.

They also said approving the proposal would send a message that student accommodation is more important than retaining historic buildings.

The council’s head of culture and tourism said the Dolphin’s “unique heritage and international appeal” had been undersold.

A planning officer’s report to the committee, which recommended granting the application, said the principle of a student residential development was considered acceptable and supported given the “established need” in the city.

The report said: “The concerns raised by third parties about the loss of this important and attractive hotel with a strong tourist draw is well articulated.

“However, the planning system, and our adopted development plan, doesn’t protect the Dolphin Hotel from closure and the council cannot insist that an unviable business remains open.

“The council cannot insist that an existing hotel provides public access to certain parts of its demise.

“The Dolphin Hotel is currently closed and in need of investment.”

The applicant has proposed to allow members of the public to have access to some parts of the building via appointment, and the "creation of a museum/interpretation centre dedicated to Jane Austen relating to her connection to the building and the Southampton area", according to a letter submitted by Savills.

The hotel has most recently been used to provide temporary accommodation for asylum seekers.

The Home Office’s use of the building was set to come to an end in April, according to a letter from the applicant’s agent.