Plans for a new 75-bed Travelodge hotel in Highbridge have been given the final go-ahead by Sedgemoor District Councillors today (Tuesday).

The council’s Development Committee met today in Bridgwater where they decided to give approval to the controversial Highbridge hotel on the Isleport Business Park.

Alan Williams, on behalf of the agent, spoke at this morning’s meeting about why the new hotel should be approved.

He outlined Travelodge’s view that it will bring financial benefit to the area by creating jobs and attracting extra visitors.

The council’s planning officer Dawn de Vries recommended that the hotel be approved – and the committee members agreed, voting in favour of giving it consent.

“The proposal would bring investment and jobs to the area as well as enhancing the image of the area as a business and tourist location,” said Dawn.

As first reported here, Travelodge is to build a four-storey hotel with 75 bedrooms, 75 parking spaces, and a cafe/bar on vacant land to the east of Bennett Road on the Isleport Business Park.

The plans have attracted a wide range of opinions. Nine letters of support were sent to the district council, saying the hotel would:

• Add diversity to the choice of local hotels
• Provide local jobs that people can walk to
• Attract new tourists and customers
• Be well positioned away from residents
• Boost existing tourism businesses

But Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge Town Council felt the hotel contravenes Sedgemoor District Council’s own vision for the business park as it would not generate highly skilled jobs, would add to road congestion in the area, and does not include any renewable energy plans. Councillors also want a retail impact statement to understand the impact on Burnham and Highbridge town centres.

Sedgemoor’s planning officer Dawn de Vries says: “The site is next to Isleport Business Park and the proposed 75 room hotel would be close to the Aldi store recently consented by the Council. The proposal would bring investment and jobs to the area as well as enhancing the image of the area as a business and tourist location which is considered to complement the existing offer on site.”

“The site forms part of a wider development site which has recently been consented for large employment premises and starter units providing the more traditional employment opportunities.”

“The proposal would provide investment into the wider area and would provide a catalyst for direct and indirect investment. It is therefore considered the proposal will have a positive impact in terms of delivery of the remaining phases of the business park and enhance it as a commercially attractive location to encourage further investment. It is considered that the development would result in a beneficial employment generating use and a form of accommodation not currently represented in Highbridge or Burnham-On-Sea.”

When the scheme was debated earlier in the year, Cllr John Parkes said: “A 75-bed hotel will create jobs, but they will be 16 part time roles and just six full time roles. Also, I’m at a loss to understand how a Travelodge, an Aldi and a food outlet will support our service centres. I think it will have a negative effect on Burnham, and a major impact on Highbridge.”

Cllr Nick Tolley added: “The building looks like a prison block from the drawings, but I note that we don’t have many places to stay locally for large groups of people – many currently stay at the hotel at the Hobbs Boat at Lympsham, far away from Burnham and Highbridge.”

Cllr Martin Cox added: “While I have a lot of sympathy with the concerns, competition is not grounds to stop this. Travelodges are always based on the outskirts of towns, as planned here, so maybe they should be contributing funding to our town centres.”

Cllr Louise Parkin said it resembles “Cell Block H” while Cllr Andy Brewer remarked that it is “aesthetically unpleasing” and not in keeping with other commercial buildings. Cllr Cox added it has “no architectural merit” and said a different location for the hotel should be found that is not detrimental to the two town centres.

Now it has been approved, the Travelodge will be located next to Highbridge’s planned new Aldi superstore. The new store, pictured in the plans above, was approved by Sedgemoor District Council back in May.

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