THE owner of a Knutsford hotel, who hopes to convert the property into a multiple occupancy house, has said she is taking on the scheme after Covid-19 caused bookings to dry up.

Andreani Ahooie, who has owned the Longview Hotel on Manchester Road for 18 years, says she feels ‘a sense of responsibility to keep Knutsford a beautiful place to live, work and enjoy’.

Next week, Cheshire East councillors will review an application to convert the hotel into a six-bedroom private house of multiple occupation.

Mrs Ahooie said this application was driven by the onset of coronavirus pandemic: “Due to the length of time the hotel has been under our ownership, the decision to change the format of the hotel has not been taken lightly, but the Covid-19 situation has hit the hospitality sector incredibly hard and we are no exception.

“We are heavily reliant on corporate customers, which have all but disappeared overnight so in a bid to retain some of our livelihood, we had no other choice but to look at alternative uses that allow the business to remain afloat.”

She also told the Guardian that the new property will only house ‘professional people who will respect and understand that the HMO is located in a prestigious area’.

The Knutsford resident of 25 years added: “We will only be accepting single occupancy and the necessary checks for the tenants will be carried out by an independent management company. We are based locally and will be hands-on with the management of the property going forwards, so have a vested interest in ensuring that all the tenants and neighbours are happy.”

Proposals to convert the hotel have been met with opposition in the town — not least from Knutsford Town Council itself.

In a letter of objection to CEC, it said: “The [town] council objects on the following grounds: 1. The proposed development would present an unneighbourly relationship with the adjacent property.

“2. The proposal is out of keeping [with] the residential character of the other private-residential properties in the area.

“3. The proposal fails to meet policies T2 and T4 of the Knutsford Neighbourhood Plan. 4. The accommodation proposed within the application falls below unit-size requirements outlined by the draft supplementary planning policy on HMOs of Cheshire East Council.”

Other objections from residents raise concerns over the parking provision for the new facility.

In response, Mrs Ahooie commented that she did not ‘expect every tenant to need a car’, and that existing parking spaces for the hotel’s 32 bedrooms could be used in the future.

The proposals will be discussed at CEC’s planning committee meeting on November 4.