Floating hotel could provide a riverside retreat in Ely by the New Year
PUBLISHED: 11:18 28 October 2016 | UPDATED: 11:30 28 October 2016
A floating hotel in a converted Dutch barge could be up and running as a riverside retreat in Ely by Christmas.
The barge was sailed from Holland to Cambridgeshire in a 40 hour trip across the North Sea earlier this year.
Since April the owners have been busy stripping it back to start from scratch in a massive make-over to turn it into a luxury five bedroom hotel.
The plan has worried one local resident who fears it may turn into a late night venue with no restrictions on where the vessel can be moored.
But owners Stuart Fowler and Donna Spence, who live on a Dutch barge at Grand Central next to the planned hotel, called Waternimf, say it is designed as a peaceful retreat to get away from the stresses of modern life.
Stuart said: “My parents ran small hotels and I’ve always been around boats so when I moved to live in a boat in Ely three years ago the idea of a floating hotel just grew.
“The last day of bringing the boat across the North Sea was a bit hairy as the waters were really rough, but we got through.
“We’ve completely gutted the boat and taken it down to bare metal, cleaned it and oiled it up.
“Working from a bare shell we’ve built five double bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, added central heating, new wiring, made it a home from home haven for relaxation.”
There is an on board dining room, kitchen and lounge area with a plan to provide occasional river cruises for hotel guests, Stuart said.
The vessel is licensed with the Environment Agency to carry up to 12 passengers at a time.
Lin Bagwell, licensing officer (enforcement) for East Cambs District Council, said in a letter to a local resident that an application had been entered to provide late night refreshment on Monday to Sunday from 11pm to 5am.
The application asks for permission to sell alcohol.
The letter said: “No operating schedule conditions have been proposed as it is deemed that the mandatory conditions attached to every premises licence (where alcohol sales are involved) are sufficient to control alcohol sales.
“As there is no application for regulated entertainment no conditions have been proposed regarding the ‘prevention of public nuisance.”
Jo Brooks, director of operations for East Cambs District Council, said they had: “received a premises license application to sell alcohol for the barge in question, which is currently open for consultation.
“The barge has been reported to our planning enforcement department and we are currently investigating this matter to ascertain whether planning permission is required.”
A local resident said: “If this application is approved as it is, this barge could be moored for 48 hours in front of any residential housing on a river in Ely and have a party till 5am in the morning.”
The deadline for representations is November 3.