The closure of an 18th-century Georgian hotel to turn it into apartments has ruined a couple’s wedding plans.
Aylesford residents Katherine Jones and Jim Dowling were set to marry at the Hadlow Manor Hotel in Tonbridge in June 2024.
But out of the blue, Jim, 29, got a call two weeks ago from the hotel’s manager telling them to move the wedding to an earlier date in 2023, to a new venue, or to cancel it, as the historic venue is closing its doors imminently. September.
Having already started booking things for their big day, including sending save-the-date cards and paying for a wedding license and photographer, the couple has been locked out after paying a deposit of around £3,360 and signing contracts.
The pair were left with the awkward predicament after the Goose Green decided to close Hadlow, who had plans to demolish part of the hotel and build 12 new homes.
If approved, part of the Grade II listed Georgian building would be redeveloped into six two-bedroom apartments, while a 20-bedroom extension to the rear of the building in Maidstone Road would be demolished for six four-bedroom houses.
The site would also lose 53 parking spaces in the redevelopment.
Katherine, also 29, and Jim have received their deposit back but have not been reimbursed for booking extras for the wedding.
Her father Louis, who was upset about the whole situation, said: “Hadlow’s events team went out of their way to get them to sign a contract and put in a deposit to secure the date and they signed and paid the money.
“But just under two weeks later, Jim got a call from the event teams that the hotel was going to be converted into flats, so they had to move it to an earlier date or location or cancel it.
“Moving the date or location was not an option, so the event was cancelled.
“After this we received an email stating that the hotel was offering a free cancellation instead of confirming that they had canceled the contract.
“I have spoken to the general manager and asked for the deposit to be refunded immediately and a reasonable offer is made for compensation for both direct and indirect costs incurred.
“But he said they were not offering compensation because of the ‘contingency’ clause in the contract.”
A spokesperson for Hadlow Manor said: “Hadlow Manor stated that it is with deep regret for the community, our customers and our staff that we have decided to close for business at the end of September 2023.
“Current management has been trying to make this business a success since 2001, but has failed to make it profitable despite huge spending on rebuilding, renovation and marketing.”
Dating back to 1812, the Georgian Manor was historically known as Leavers Manor, which is believed to have come from Stephen Leaveres, the owner of the property in medieval times.
It is currently unknown how many jobs will be lost due to the “changing operations” at the hotel.
A spokesperson added: “Some of our team will be offered to move to our other hotels if a suitable vacancy and position is available.”
Planners for the proposed development have said the proposal will “improve the setting of the landmark building” by removing the modern extension that is “currently negatively impacting”.
It concluded: “It will improve the site by recommissioning more of the original garden space and generally increasing the amount of green space.
“The design aesthetic has been developed into a traditional style with details and materials designed to complement the original Georgian house.
“The landscaping has been carefully designed to plant native species and to allow for a net gain for biodiversity.
“The conversion of the monumental building into flats has been designed in such a way that the impact on the monumental building is minimal and at the same time the necessary adjustments are made to comply with building regulations.”
View the plans here, with reference 22/01237/FL.