Hotel Solutions completed the 2018 Bath & North East Somerset Visitor Accommodation Study for Bath & North East Somerset Council in October 2018 to up-date of two previous studies that we undertook for the council in 2009 and 2015. Hotel accommodation in the city of Bath was a particular focus, but the study also covered other forms of serviced and non-serviced visitor accommodation. In addition to a supply and proposals audit and face to face and telephone interviews with hotel and visitor accommodation managers, Hotel Solutions’ demand forecasting model was run for the city of Bath to identify the need for additional bedrooms at different levels of the market under a range of growth scenarios. This provided an indication of the number of hotel development sites that will be needed in Bath to accommodate envisaged future demand growth.
As this study was primarily planning-driven, a variety of planning options were explored to manage new hotel development. This included site allocation – which had been acted upon following the 2009 and 2015 studies, with the current local plan identifying three city centre sites where hotels are put forward as part of mixed-use allocations. Our recommendations also advised on future policies for other forms of accommodation in the rural area. We undertook some specific research and consultation work to look at planning policy approaches in other UK heritage cities and in sensitive rural landscapes to identify best practice and the range of planning tools that had been used. This revealed some very different approaches to similar issues, with some local authorities being happy to leave development to market forces, within a loose policy framework, whereas others were much more directive about what they were seeking and where they would like development to take place.
The B&NES study also looked at the issues around the rapid growth of Airbnb and short-term letting of residential properties, serviced apartments, and student accommodation being let to the visitor market during the summer but in some cases all year round. There are numerous concerns around these, including the impact on local housing stock and noise and disturbance to neighbouring residents. The research investigated some approaches being trialled in other cities in the UK and overseas, and explored whether there was a role for planning in regulating these forms of accommodation, or some other route such as licensing.