Plans to repair a prominent but dilapidated Herefordshire hotel has been given the go-ahead by planners.

The three-storey Royal Oak, at the junction of South Street and Etnam Street in Leominster, is a Grade II-listed coaching inn thought to date from the late 18th century. It lies within the town’s conservation area, with other listed buildings alongside and opposite.

Jay Rai, of Rai Fashions, Madley, applied last July for listed building consent to carry out repairs to the hotel, including to its roofing and windows, rebuilding a chimney and fixing storm damage inside and out.

The hotel has been “redundant and neglected for many years”, and has been subject to “defective” roofing and “inappropriate methods” of waterproofing, his application said.


In the event, there were no objections to the plans.

Life-long Leominster resident Dorothy Lloyd said: “I have watched this once grand and beautiful building basically fall apart.

“It has become an absolute eyesore and an embarrassment, and it is work that is long overdue.”

Fellow resident Pete Blench sought assurance that the hotel would be restored for “much-needed” visitor accommodation, which Leominster “is desperately short of, as both of the town’s former principal hotels are vacant, disused and in a poor state of repair”.

“A large sum of public money is likely to be spent on the restoration of the Royal Oak, so it is crucial that the town receives some public benefit,” he said.

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Leominster Town Council declined to comment owing to its role in the town’s ongoing High Street Heritage Action Project, which will use £3.6 million to improve the look of the town centre.

The project’s delivery plan includes restoring the hotel, but this puts the cost of “bare-minimum works” at £210,000, with the full cost of renovation “likely to be considerably more”.

Planning officer Emily Brookes said “insufficient detail” had been provided on the planned repair work, but that “given the acceptability of the principle and the urgency of the works, the detail can be secured via condition”.

As a consequence, a list of 20 conditions, ensuring extensive documentation and approval of individual parts of the proposed work, was attached to the permission notice.

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