COUNCILLORS have backed a new hotel in Witney and hope it will help enhance West Oxfordshire’s tourism.

District council members granted planning permission for the 57-bedroom Premier Inn hotel in Ducklington Lane at a lowlands area planning subcommittee meeting.

The 2,510 sq ft hotel, over two and three-storeys, will create 30 jobs and bring 7,371 new customers a year to Witney, Premier Inn’s owners Whitbread have predicted.

Planning officers have been given delegated powers to rubber stamp the scheme after reaching agreement about conserving protected trees on the site and developer funding.

Area planning manager Phil Shaw said: “The key issue is related to the trees. There is a particularly fine walnut tree along Ducklington Lane which provides screening of Lidl.

“By pushing the car park spaces into the root protection area it is putting pressure on what is an important tree.”

He suggested the two-storey elevation along Ducklington Lane could be increased in height to move the hotel away from the protected trees.

But he said: “We believe it is a good site for a hotel and, given tourism is so important for the district, it is an opportunity we should grab hold of.”

Premier Inn has already agreed to remove a planned outside seating area to the front of the building to alleviate concerns about antisocial behaviour.

Councillor Richard Langridge said: “I think it is much-needed facility and asset to Witney that can only enhance the tourism offer we provide.

“On the subject of trees, I applaud the officers for looking to protect them, but I also think people before trees.”