Re-opening of Hardy's 'Casterbridge' hotel delayed

Kings Arms Hotel in Dorchester
Image caption Queen Victoria is said to have stayed at the hotel

Plans to re-open a hotel immortalised in Thomas Hardy's novel The Mayor of Casterbridge have been delayed.

The Kings Arms Hotel in Dorchester, which has hosted royalty and rock stars, closed down last year.

Pub company Draco, which bought the hotel, had intended to refurbish the 280-year-old building and reopen it by spring.

Now it says planning delays mean the projected opening date has been pushed back to late 2017.

'Pretty frustrated'

A planning application which had been due to be determined by the end of July is still under consideration by West Dorset District Council.

Work cannot begin on the grade II*-listed building until permission is granted.

Draco director James Brooke-Webb said his firm was "pretty frustrated" and "at a loss to understand" the delay.

"We are keen to press ahead with the project as soon as we can and we think this is an important project for the local economy," he said.

Built in 1720, The Kings Arms, is said to have hosted guests including Queen Victoria and King George IV, as well as celebrities such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

West Dorset planning councillor Ian Gardner said: "Discussions are ongoing between the planning department and the agents regarding the application. An update will be published on the relevant application page in due course."

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