Long-running plans to redevelop the Highbridge Hotel and former cattle market site have taken a big step forward this week with the agreement of a £1.48million grant funding deal.

Sedgemoor District Council’s Executive has agreed to give a grant worth £1,481,000 from its New Homes Bonus Fund to Knightstone Housing Association to enable the construction of 59 homes on the cattle market site.

The Council has also agreed to enter into a “six year option agreement” with Derek Mead, pictured, the current owner of the Highbridge Hotel site. This agreement will secure the transfer of the land into the Council’s ownership for a nominal fee of £1.

A council report states: “After lengthy discussions and negotiations, terms have been agreed to bring forward the development of both the Highbridge Hotel site and former Cattle Market site adjoining.”

“In order to bring forward the development of 59 affordable family housing units on the land of the former Cattle Market and facilitate the refurbishment and redevelopment of the Highbridge Hotel site Sedgemoor District Council has agreed to grant fund the scheme in the sum of £1,481,000 for the provision of social housing.”

“In addition there is a need to lift the restrictive covenant (previously valued at £100,000) currently on part of the site. In order to secure the hotel land for the future use of the proposed YMCA development Sedgemoor District Council will also enter into a 6 year option agreement with the current owner of the hotel site to secure that land for nil cost and therefore facilitate the redevelopment of this land mark building.”

The report adds: “The nature of an option is that there is no compulsion on the Council to exercise it but it does allow a period of time to develop a scheme with a partner with the full knowledge that the site can be acquired for £1.00 at any time during the 6 year period. In the meantime, of course, the partners will continue with on-going discussions to bring the project forward considerably sooner.”

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.

This week’s report notes that the grant to Knightstone Housing Association will facilitate the delivery of 59 affordable housing units and that delegated authority was granted to negotiate the grant of up to £1.5million at the full council meeting on 18th July.

A council spokesperson said: “This is a very positive opportunity to redevelop and enhance what has been an eye-sore for many years. The council has already committed its support to the project enabling significant inward investment of
funding from other partners.”

Pictured: How the redeveloped Highbridge Hotel development will look, how it looks today and, above the huge blaze in 2008

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