era for fire-hit Highbridge Hotel as £11m overhaul is approved
pound plans to regenerate the fire-ravaged former Highbridge Hotel
have been approved by district councillors on Tuesday.
of Sedgemoor District Council's Development Control Committee
unanimously granted approval to the £11million scheme during
a meeting in Bridgwater.
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.
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.
YMCA said it is "thrilled" at the decision which will
herald an "exciting new era" for the site.
Mead added that the decision was "very pleasing" and
he hopes the development can now move forward quickly.
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.
agreed with Sedgemoor Case Officer Shawn Fleet, who recommended
that the scheme be approved despite 15 formal objections from
local residents and eight statements in support of the scheme.
and Highbridge Mayor Cllr Martin Cox said: "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."
councillor Helen Groves had opposed the scheme at a recent town
council meeting: "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."
Bill Hancock also opposed the scheme, 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."
How the new housing development will look
give mixed opinions on the new Highbridge Hotel scheme