Published: July 10, 2013
Highbridge Hotel owner awaiting EDF deal to begin £11m overhaul

Highbridge Hotel owner Derek Mead says the £11million project to transform the fire-hit property into a modern housing complex is being held up by EDF's long-running discussions with the government over funding for Hinkley Point C.

Mr Mead, pictured, recently won approval to build 59 residential dwellings on the old cattle market site, and redevelop the fire-damaged hotel into two studio flats, five 4-bed flats plus new accommodation for the YMCA with a multi-use games area, as reported here.

However, speaking to this week, Mr Mead said the plans are being held up by the discussions over Hinkley since EDF may provide community funding towards the Highbridge Hotel project.

"The plans were unanimously approved by Sedgemoor earlier in the year and we're now just trying to get the funding sorted out," he confirmed.

"EDF funding is delaying things in the background until a deal is reached with the government over Hinkley."

He added: "No timeframes have yet been agreed for the hotel building work, but I would like to see it beginning this year. All the planning is done and the mediation tests have been completed, so it's ready to begin once the funding is sorted."

Claire Faun, Sedgemoor District Council spokeswoman, told "EDF is due to give '106 funding' to various housing, tourism and community projects across Sedgemoor to offset its Hinkley Point development."

"EDF is one of the stakeholders in the Highbridge Hotel project and it could set aside some of its community funding for the project, but because of the hiatus over Hinkley C funding, this is being delayed. It is frustrating but it is completely out of our hands."

While EDF had the design for its reactors approved last year, it is still waiting for the Government to sign off on the all-important 'strike price'. This is the amount it can charge for the electricity it produces once the reactors are finished. Because EDF will pump £14bn into the project, its investors want to be able to guarantee a return on their investments, hence the discussions have been long.

The former Highbridge Hotel has been derelict since a huge blaze occurred in April 2008 and negotiations about its future have been ongoing ever since.

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