July 15, 2014
Six years after Highbridge Hotel blaze, redevelopment saga continues

The long-running saga around the planned redevelopment of the Highbridge Hotel has taken another twist this week that could lead to further delays in getting the builing revamped.

The YMCA - which is one of several stakeholders involved in the planned overhaul of the building - has requested the removal of a key council planning condition.

Town councillors will be discussing the request at a planning meeting tomorrow evening (Wednesday, July 16th).

The YMCA is seeking that 'Condition 15' of the hotel's planning approval is removed. It was put in place by Sedgemoor District Council last year to encourage the developer to go ahead with the hotel overhaul before the new housing on the adjacent former cattle market site is completed.

A spokesman explained that the condition was put in place to ensure the new housing should not be completed and delivered prior to the restoration works on the Grade II Listed former Highbridge Hotel are finalised.

The YMCA says in its bid to renove the clause that the "removal is required to suit the construction programming of the Highbridge Hotel site to comply with the funding conditions for the redevelopment."

Last month, Derek Mead, above, the businessman who owns the Highbridge Hotel site, told that he was "optimistic" that work would soon start on the much-needed hotel overhaul.

The hotel building is due to 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.

However, Tina Gray of Highbridge Residents Association said: "It is so frustrating for residents in the town to see the talks over the hotel continuing - we just want it all to be completed."

"I, and many others in Highbridge, want to see a proper full redevelopment of the hotel - not just a tarting up of the same building. Sadly, the town is known for the hotel because it's so visible and it lets us down even though so many positive things happen here."

The Highbridge Hotel has been derelict for over six years since a huge blaze destroyed much of it in April 2008, pictured above, followed by several other smaller blazes.

Negotiations about its future have been ongoing ever since. Meanwhile, construction of 59 new homes on the old cattle market site next to the hotel is quickly progressing and is on track to finish later this year.


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