Art gallery set to become spa

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THE transformation of an art gallery into a luxury spa linked to a 15th century hotel has been approved, writes Neil Bracegirdle.

At a development committee meeting at Babergh District Council on Wednesday, councillors granted permission for The Swan in Lavenham to change the Wildlife Art Gallery into a spa with seven treatment rooms.

The plans put forward by the owners of the part Grade I and Grade II listed building – Thorpeness and Aldeburgh Hotels Ltd – will see a pair of two-storey extensions built to accommodate the spa and a new courtyard created.

A reception, changing areas and store rooms will also feature in the extensions, which will adjoin the hotel in High Street.

The gallery will relocate to another site already owned by the hotel.

Despite the proposals being given the go-ahead, a plunge pool initially set to be part of the scheme will not be constructed.

This was withdrawn after residents complained about the impact the plans would have on heritage assets in the village and claimed the location of the site and scale of the development had been “incorrectly” described.

The council also received two letters of representation against the plans, which argued the development would lead to more cars parking in Lady Street and Water Street.

But following a site visit earlier this month, councillors chose to approve the plans.

A spokesman for Thorpeness and Aldeburgh Hotels said that the health spa had been designed to respect the location of the site.

“The new facility is intended for use by hotel guests and the local community, and will support the long-term viability of the hotel,” he said.

“Significant investment has taken place in the hotel which contributes to the economic prosperity of the village.”

Nine full-time members of staff are expected to be employed at the spa once it is built, with opening hours of 7am to 9pm, seven days a week.