boss says Highbridge Hotel's overhaul 'will finish in 2016'
long-awaited redevelopment of the eyesore Highbridge Hotel site
will be completed by September 2016, it has emerged this week.
first reported five
weeks ago that the YMCA had been awarded £1.1m of funding
to overhaul the hotel site by the government's Homes and Community
the Chief Executive of the YMCA in Somerset, Martin Hodgson, pictured,
has this week unveiled the timescales for the project to create
accommodation for young people and community sports facilities.
can confirm that we will be inviting tenders for the building
work in August, starting the hotel redevelopment in November this
year, and aiming to fully complete the work by September 2016,"
he told Burnham-On-Sea.com.
has been a hot potato for us for some time and we are very aware
that the general public is keen to see the site improved as quickly
as possible," he said. "I
drive past this iconic building every day on my way to work and
fully understand the desire to get the site improved."
comments came after a meeting of the Town Council's Planning Applications
Committee on Wednesday when Mr Hodgson won the backing of the
council for the removal
of a planning condition to allow the cattle market homes next
door to be completed before the hotel overhaul itself.
YMCA has asked Sedgemoor District Council to relax a planning
condition which was attached when permission was given for the
combined development of the hotel and the building of the 59 homes
by Knightstone Housing.
said: "Condition 15 encourages Knightstone to go ahead with
the hotel work before the last section of new housing on the cattle
market site is completed, but by relaxing Condition 15 it would
allow the YMCA to take over the hotel project. It would cost £1.79million,
but we have £1.1million from the Homes & Communities
Agency, so we have the money to start as soon as possible."
Griffin, Corporate Director at Sedgemoor District Council, told
Wednesday's meeting: "The speed at which the £1.1m
funding from the Homes and Community Agency for the hotel was
secured took us by surprise and we now are talking to Sport England
to get funding for the planned sports and leisure facilities as
request to have 'Condition 15' of the hotel's planning approval
removed is purely a timing issue to allow the housing to be completed
by next March and to proceed with the hotel," she said.
added that a "legal assurance" could be given to the
Town Council that the hotel redevelopment would proceed.
Cllr Bill Hancock said is unhappy with the proposals. "I
am not happy - I think it is absolutely disgusting that Sedgemoor
is asking for this. We had an agreement with Sedgemoor that the
housing would only go ahead at the same time as the hotel development
and yet this was over-ruled by Sedgemoor's Executive and the homes
have gone ahead first."
legal agreement would not be worth the paper it would be written
on. The new homes on the cattle market next door should never
have been started before the River Brue flood defences were completed
to protect the town. It also worries me that Sedgemoor is looking
to go ahead with the hotel without funding available in place
for the main community benefit - the sports facilities."
Town Clerk Denise Emery told Wednesday's meeting that there is
a considerable amount of developer funding available to build
local community sports facilities and that she does not forsee
an issue there.
Paul Young asked whether the funding would be enough to complete
the project given the protected listed status of the hotel building.
Mr Hodgson said he is aware of this risk but is confident that
the funding would cover the work.
Peter Burridge-Clayton added: "I feel much happier about
the project after tonight. I have tremendous faith in the YMCA
that they can deliver this project, having seen a lot of their
other sites doing really well."
Andy Brewer added that it is important that the issue of the hotel
is sorted out as quickly as possible and that such a prominent
site on the A38 is made more attractive.
voted on the proposal to remove the Condition 15. Four were in
favour and one - Cllr Hancock - abstained.
Hotel has been derelict for over six years since a huge
blaze destroyed much of it in April 2008, followed by several
other smaller fires.