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Dispute over Cromer seafront Bath House

PUBLISHED: 16:00 08 April 2008 | UPDATED: 08:54 13 July 2010

Town councillors at Cromer are challenging their county councillor over his plan to turn an historic seafront hotel into his home.

And the town mayor Phil Harris has hit out at Liberal Democrat county representative Barry Connell, who is putting a retrospective planning application, saying he “should know better.

TOWN councillors at Cromer are challenging their county councillor over his plan to turn an historic seafront hotel into his home.

Mayor Phil Harris has hit out at Liberal Democrat county representative Barry Connell, who is submitting a retrospective planning application, saying he "should know better."

The debate surrounds the Bath House on Cromer promenade - a former Victorian spa where the gentry soothed their bodies in warm seawater baths, and more recently a popular seafront watering hole.

When Dr Connell and his wife Anji bought the seaside building about eight years ago they planned to

turn it into a spa suite, with restaurant and bedrooms. But

when much-delayed building

work finished, no hotel materialised.

It now seems that plans for a hotel have been abandoned and Dr Connell has applied for a lawful certificate of change of use to a private house.

Dr Connell can turn the Bath House, into a private house if he can prove he has lived there for more than four years.

Among the papers accompanying his application, is a legal affidavit sworn by him on March 12, declaring this was the case.

However, at a meeting of the town council planning committee, councillors endorsed a letter from the Cromer Preservation Society questioning if Dr Connell

had been living at the house that long.

The society's representations to the planning authority, North Norfolk District Council, said Dr Connell had only been paying domestic council tax for 18 months and had given an address other than the Bath House when he had stood for election in 2005.

Mr Harris said Dr Connell should have known better than submitting a retrospective planning application.

He said: "I believe we shouldn't let him walk all over us. I think we should consider the facts of council tax and the electoral roll."

The News was unable to contact Dr Connell. His party's office at County Hall, said he was on holiday, and that he stood by an earlier statement, which said: "We are very happy that there is a proper process that will be adhered to."

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