Published: May 14 , 2013
Decision day arrives for £11m plans to overhaul Highbridge Hotel

Multi-million pound plans to regenerate the fire-ravaged former Highbridge Hotel are due to be considered by district councillors today (Tuesday).

Members of Sedgemoor District Council's Development Control Committee may grant approval to the major sscheme during a meeting in Bridgwater.

Burnham-On-Sea.com first reported here in March that hotel owner Derek Mead wants to build 59 residential dwellings on the old cattle market site to include 23 three-bedroom homes, 31 two-bedroom homes and 5 two-bedroom flats.

The fire-damaged hotel building itself would be redeveloped into 2 studio flats, 5 4-bed flats plus new accommodation for the YMCA with a public access multi-use games area and cafe.

Sedgemoor Case Officer Shawn Fleet has recommended that the scheme be approved. It comes despite 15 formal objections from local residents, eight statements in support of the scheme.

Burnham and Highbridge Mayor Cllr Martin Cox is in favour of the scheme, saying: "People have been saying for many years that this is an eyesore that badly needs tidying up. It's not every day that a multi-million pound plan comes forward for Highbridge. To stand in the way of this happening would be crazy. I am in favour, providing there is a substantial 106 agreement in place providing new infrastructure for the town."

But distict councillor Helen Groves has opposed the scheme, saying: "The current proposals will fix the cosmetic problems but fail to address the future needs of the town. The scheme may not address local housing needs as the evidence base is drawn from Sedgemoor-wide information and, further, it may not be possible to implement the restrictions of housing allocation suggested. As such there may be a greater demand upon infrastructure required to support this development than suggested within the proposal. The evidence base for the YMCA hostel does not appear to be based upon a local demand and I would like to see evidence of a housing needs study for the area. Some residents are telling me that any new development here is good, but others are taking a pragmatic view, keeping an eye on the future and saying we should not approve this scheme at this time."

Cllr Bill Hancock is also not in fabour of the plans, saying: "The site has far more potential than just more houses and flats. We need a scheme that will help the centre of Highbridge. I am also concerned that the hotel itself should be re-developed before the new houses behind to avoid any possibility of the YMCA funding drying up and the hotel being left to decay for another 10 years."

Highbridge councillor Alan Miller says he is in favour of the plans. "I have been involved in all the meetings regarding the hotel site and think it is a good thing for the town after many years of discussions."

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

How the new Highbridge housing development will look if it's approved

RELATED LINKS:

Residents give mixed opinions on the new Highbridge Hotel scheme


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