The former Highbridge Hotel is set to be formally opened in January when a major £4.6m redevelopment project is finally completed, the boss of the YMCA has said this week.

The hotel building was gutted in a fire in April 2008 that left it severely damaged. Since then, there have many dashed hopes of an overhaul to the “eyesore” site.

The building will provide a new community cafe, a multi-use sports hall for sports activities, meeting areas, plus 23 new homes for young people.

Martin Hodgson, Chief Executive of YMCA Dulverton, told Burnham-On-Sea.com this week: “During November we are in partnership with John Perkins Construction, working through the final elements of building handover and services. The YMCA has learned through its development experience that this process should not be rushed and that on a project of this size it is crucial the whole team understands the building and its functions.”

“We have during November begun to take delivery of the furniture for the housing elements of the build, this is being installed in the rooms during the next three of weeks. The community space furniture is also arriving during this period and of course our meeting room, sports and kitchen equipment.”

“As this furniture arrives we are hoping to host a few events during December for community groups, and general members of the public who have been supportive during the process of the build. These events we will post through our social media channels and also will be letting the media know of when they will occur.”

“We have now completed the recruitment of some key posts including our front of house staff and the chef, which following their induction will be based at YMCA Highbridge. These staff will be on site from the beginning on December to talk with members of the community who are interested in using the building, and those community groups that wish to make use of the space.  We have already begun to draw up a programme for the site, and look forward to hosting a variety of groups that will really enhance the offer to Highbridge.”

“In the interim if members of the public or groups would like to know more about the offer and how they will be able to either book facilities or work with us to develop new ideas for the building please can they contact ymcahighbridge@ymca-dg.org or Stephanie Parsons (YMCA Dulverton Group Operations Manager) on 01278 726000.”

“The formal launch of the building we are planning for January, which will allow for us to bed into the building and ensure that we have great programme of activities planned for the community.”

He added: “The YMCA would like to thank everyone who has been supportive of the project, including John Perkins Construction, Sedgemoor District Council and Homes England.”

“Through the support of these bodies over the past six years we have been able to bring this very challenging project to fruition, and are sure it will be an asset for the community for years to come.”