The future of the former George Hotel in Highbridge has been secured as proposals for a major new commercial development are unveiled this week.
The prominent building in Church Street and the derelict tattoo studio next door look set to be turned into a new furniture business, creating new jobs and bringing welcome new investment to the town centre.
Matt and Emily Scott from Burnham-On-Sea have acquired the former hotel to create a new store in the centre of Highbridge with the financial backing of Emily’s family. Their planning application is due to be submitted to Sedgemoor District Council this week.
Matt told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “Highbridge has been through tough times recently and the partly boarded Tattoo Studio in such a prominent location has done little to help this. I’m really excited about the possibility of restoring some of the heritage of these two buildings and creating a destination store of which Highbridge can be proud.”
Lawrence Duck Architecture Design has been appointed to design the remodelled building. Lawrence specialises in high quality creative alterations to existing buildings, from renovations and barn conversions to smaller scale alterations and extensions.
Matt added: “We hope to restore as many original features as possible, while weatherproofing and restoring the building, and bringing it up to modern standards.”
“A new glazed entrance will lead customers from the car park into a modern central hub which will join the two buildings, a grand staircase will lead to the upper floor and a cafe.”
Building work is expected to take between one and two years.
Matt has seven years experience in the furniture industry, having previously worked alongside his father Tony Scott at Scott’s Home Furnishers in Burnham-On-Sea before Tony sold his interest in the business in the summer of 2015.
Matt is well respected in the industry and was the first person in the UK to
graduate from the Sleep Council Sales Academy in November 2014. Emily is a reader-in-training at the nearby St. Andrew’s Church in Burnham and currently works as a care support worker for adults with learning disabilities.
The couple met whilst both volunteering and they continue to be involved in a number of events, projects and organisations.
“The new furniture shop will be called ‘Sopha’, which is thought to be the original Parisian spelling of the commonly used term ‘Sofa’. Specialising in craftsman-made sofas, mattresses and homeware, Sopha hopes to create a new furniture store for those who put quality and longevity first,” added Matt.
“For example, Sopha is currently working with a family run bed manufacturer who hand-make each of their mattresses using wool from their own flock of sheep and fillings grown on their Yorkshire farm.”
Matt added: “I feel it’s really important that we know where the products we sell come from and how they are produced. It is important to make sure our products are not only beautifully crafted but also that they perform well throughout their lifetime.”
The George Hotel closed earlier this year and is understood to have been built around 1775 as a Coaching Inn. The shop next door has lain empty for a number of years, having previously been a newsagent and will be remembered by many locally as the factory shops of the former Bacon Factory and Creamery which were once major employers in Highbridge.