Oakdene Hotel, Wrotham

Value: £4,100,000

Client: Private

Status: Planning gained 2016

Use: Hotel + Restaurant

This 76 bedroom hotel with restaurant and conference facilities is located on Greenbelt land within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Sevenoaks.

The scheme viability necessitated a hotel capacity of 65 bedrooms, events spaces and restaurant, a tall order given a site footprint of just 0.3ha, the need to set-back the building sufficiently from the busy A20 road, and height restraints within the AONB restricted to 9 metres. Despite this, JAA met all accommodation requirements and exceeded the bedroom requirements, at 76 rooms.

The design was carefully considered in the immediate context of the adjacent neighbours, the wider context of the Greenbelt and AONB, and in terms of material improvement to the ecology and the visual appearance of the site. A C-shaped plan was devised to form a large green open courtyard adjacent to the neighbouring residential properties, keeping the main building bulk away from this low-level massing. Similarly the scheme was set back at second floor, to ensure the two wings’ along the residential boundary were no larger in mass than a small cottage.

The soft landscaping to the grounds and the expansive roofs are planted in local Kentish flowers and grasses, increasing the vegetative footprint of the site form 0% at present to 58%. The top two stories of the long three storey block are clad in perforated aluminum panels, diffusing any internal lighting in the upper floors at night time, therefore reducing impact and light pollution on neighbouring properties, wildlife and long views. The bronze tones are sympathetic to the natural hues of the countryside, muted and soft, and similar to red brick which is prevalent in the area. The areas clad in larch timber will weather and silver naturally, blending in to the surrounding area and proposed mature trees to be planted throughout the site.
 The ground floor is glazed in it’s entirety, using a mixture of clear glazing where views and light are desired, and opaque glass planks where privacy or screening is required. The effect to be achieved is that the building at ground floor is ‘floating’. The courtyard facades are clad in pre-grown ivy screens with incorporated bird, insect and bat boxes, to protect long views over this elevation as well as the obvious ecological benefits it will give to the scheme. The green walls also help to keep the building cool and absorb sound from the nearby motorways.

The proposed new use on the site, which replaces a roadside café popular with motorbikers and long distance lorry drivers, was encouraged by the Council, who deemed the scheme as having a positive impact on the local economy. The approval of this scheme at planning is therefore not only a success for our client and for the local economy, but it also improves the green credentials and appearance of this small pocket within the AONB.