Green light for Manor House Hotel’s ‘secret garden’ spa

A “secret garden” spa development giving guests the chance to go on a journey of discovery will be built in the grounds of an Alsager hotel.
Andrew and Justine Middleton submitted plans to extend the Manor House Hotel on Audley Road, and this week they were given permission, with conditions, by Cheshire East Council.
The 2,250sqm development at the 58-bedroomed four-star hotel will be for the use of both hotel and day guests.
A new single-storey spa building will have an outdoor courtyard with a small vitality pool leading to a “secret” garden offering additional spa experiences. The new building will connect to the current hotel via an existing glazed rear entrance.
In their application to the borough council, the applicants said: “The spa concept differs from most hotel spas in utilising both internal and external spaces, forming a journey though contrasting environments.
“The courtyard and garden elements are key to the success of the spa. Within the garden, herbs and aromatic plants will form living elements which can be incorporated into treatments and thermal experiences. Some relaxation areas will be obscured by planting and ‘discovered’ by guests as they move through the garden.
“Within the courtyard there will be a more ‘controlled’ space including the vitality pool and two additional thermal experiences.”
There will be areas for relaxation, eating and drinking and treatments separated by low level planting boxes, again containing specially selected plant species to promote health and wellbeing.
There will be an array of facilities including; treatment rooms, a sleep and relaxation lounge, a serenity lounge, indoor lounge and manicure and pedicure lounge. In addition, there will be new changing rooms, a food and beverage area and a new retail reception.
There will also be two steam rooms, two saunas and a garden pavilion for the use of guest groups.
The application said spa guests will be “encouraged to explore and lose track of time”.
The scheme received plenty of positive feedback from neighbours, with 18 posting favourable comments on the council’s planning portal.
However some residents were concerned that the development would have an adverse effect on parking provision on Audley Road because the new development will swallow up some of the hotel’s current park spaces, reducing them from 147 to 89. The current seven disabled spaces will be retained.
Despite the applicants stating “there will still be adequate car parking provision to meet the demand of the current hotel”, a resident of Birch Avenue said: “As I see it, this hotel is going to lose in excess of 40 parking places.
“I believe the Manor House allow staff from Townhouse nursery to use the back of the car park during the day and although most do not, if the ones that do are prevented from then parking there they are going to park on Birch Ave/Meadow Croft where the parking is already ludicrous with double parking and parking on pavements and the school traffic on school days. “Birch Ave is also a rat run for avoiding Audley Road when the level crossing has been shut.
“If the car park is at full capacity, which could happen regularly with weekday guests for wedding parties, where are they going to park? There is no way they can park on the already congested Audley Road.”
A resident of Meadow Croft posted: “Audley Road from Alsager town centre to the Manor House Hotel is already very heavily trafficked and suffering from severe congestion. Particular issues concern parked traffic when the railway line barrier is down, parking on Audley Road between Talke Road and Oak Avenue and speeding traffic for which no action has been taken by the council.
“No traffic impact assessment has been provided, neither are there any provisions to deal with an increase in vehicle traffic for day guests. Although the total number of car parking spaces will be reduced in the new scheme, large parts of the current car park are unused and this doesn't reflect an increase in the number of vehicle movements which will be due to an increased number of day guests.”
The hotel site was formerly known as Townend Farm and the original 17th century farmhouse remains, now forming the main bar and restaurant. The outbuildings have long since been demolished and the vacant space used to extend the building with a number of bedroom and function suite wings.
Among the 14 conditions imposed on the permission granted by the council were that work on the development must start within three years and building work on the site can only take place between the hours of 8am to 6pm on weekdays and 9am to 2pm on Saturdays, with no work allowed on Sundays and bank holidays.