Victorian hotel's 'vandalism' extension plans refused

Flashback to 2014 when plans were lodged to refurbish the Burlington Hotel. Architect Bernard Smith,

Flashback to 2014 when plans were lodged to refurbish the Burlington Hotel. Architect Bernard Smith, left, and former owner Steve McDermot with a model of how the building could have been transformed. - Credit: Archant

Proposed changes to a Victorian former hotel have been rejected by a planning committee, with an architect describing the plans as “vandalism”.  

Norwich-based developers Estateducation said it needed to amend plans for the former Burlington Hotel in Sheringham, which has been turned into apartments, because the approved scheme was not practical.  

Estateducation bought the building in November 2018 after approval for the project, which included a modern extension, had been given several years before.  

Proposed changes to the plans include more visible steelwork and changes to the pitched roof which planners said "creates an awkward relationship with the original building".

A CGI image of how the former Burlington Hotel could look, with the 'modern' extension on the right. 

A CGI image of how the former Burlington Hotel could look, with the 'modern' extension on the right. - Credit: Estateducation

Around half of the apartments in the building have already been reserved, but a two-storey four-bedroom penthouse is still on the market for £1m.  

North Norfolk District Council's development committee considered the amendment application at a meeting on March 11, with the original architect, Bernard Smith, speaking out against the changes.  

He said he was considering taking legal action against Estateducation’s owner, Ben Smith, for comments suggesting the designs were done with crayons and did not take into account how it would be built - which he described as “totally false”. 

The Burlington Hotel in days gone by. Pic: Archant library

The Burlington Hotel in its heyday. The building was originally opened as 'Burlington Apartments' 1899 but had become a hotel by 1904. - Credit: Archant


“It is being used as a tool to deflect attention away from the seriousness of the errors on site," he said.  

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“Had there been an ounce of truth I would not be a fool to sit here today.”  

The original architect said he wanted to protect the original design from the “present vandalism”, and urged members to reject the amendments.  

Council officer Jo Medler said the various design changes in the new proposal had received a mixed response from planning officers, but the plans would have a significant level of harm towards a heritage asset.  

Ms Medler said: “It's considered to be a less refined design due to the steelwork which does dominate the frontage rather than remaining silent as originally approved.”  

North Norfolk District Council is doing an IT upgrade, meaning its local search departmet is closed

North Norfolk District Council. - Credit: Archant

Debi Sherman, speaking on behalf of the developers, called on the committee to consider whether the alleged harm from the alterations outweighed the public benefit of delivering 26 homes.  

“I must make clear at this point that the conversion of the 20 units in the former hotels cannot be brought to market without the completion of the extension,” she said.  

Committee member, Paul Heinrich, said he could not understand why the development was not being built to the approved design.  

Councillors voted unanimously to reject the amendments. 

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Smith from Estateducation said he would work with the planning department to achieve the relevant consent required, and said their request was "not unusual with any development being constructed".

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