Bathhouse fate still in the balance

The fate of a former seafront hotel at Cromer is still in the balance after a watershed meeting.Months of controversy have surrounded the future of the Bath House, where owners Barry and Anji Connell have dropped plans to turn it into a luxury boutique hotel and now aim to make it their home, with occasional bed and breakfast.

The fate of a former seafront hotel at Cromer is still in the balance after a watershed meeting.

Months of controversy have surrounded the future of the Bath House, where owners Barry and Anji Connell have dropped plans to turn it into a luxury boutique hotel and now aim to make it their home, with occasional bed and breakfast.

They tried to formalise the change of use by getting a certificate of lawfulness - by proving it had been a house for four years before their application in March 2008.

But it has drawn a concerted campaign by local opponents, and was thrown out by North Norfolk District Council's east area development committee which decided the Connells had failed to prove their case due to a string of inconsistencies.

However the couple will now be asked to table a planning application for a change of use, and heard it would not break any planning policies - though officers stressed that was no guarantee it would be granted.

Council planning, legal and enforcement manager Roger Howe said it was a 'difficult and controversial' issue, with conflicting and contradictory evidence.

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Mr Howe felt the Connells had not proved their case - and councillors agreed by four votes to three.

Councillor Richard Price said taking the issue through the planning process could help as there was a public perception the saga so far was a bid to get permission through the back door.