Town councillors have this week given a ‘thumbs down’ to plans to build a new 75-bed Travelodge hotel in Highbridge.
At a meeting last night (Wednesday), members of the council’s Planning Applications Committee expressed concern about the proposals and voted to object against the scheme.
As Burnham-On-Sea.com first reported here, Travelodge wants to build a four-storey hotel with 75 bedrooms, 75 parking spaces, and a built-in cafe/bar, on vacant land to the east of Bennett Road on the Isleport Business Park.
But councillors feel 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.
In a statement read out at the meeting, Burnham Chamber Of Trade said that while it welcomes inward investment into the area, it is concerned that the plans could take away trade from existing accommodation providers and food businesses, and also affect coach numbers in the town centre when a council-supported project is underway to attract more coach visitors into Burnham.
Comments read out from the owner of Burnham’s Royal Clarence Hotel also expressed concern about the negative impact on local accommodation providers, food retailers and transport access around the proposed site.
Cllr Peter Burridge Clayton said: “I do have sympathy with the concerns – my opinion is that the hotel users would stay there and use the cafe and Aldi, which will mean it will have an affect on our town centres in Burnham and Highbridge.”
Cllr John Parkes added: “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, but 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.”
Councillors also criticised the appearance of the proposed hotel. 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.
Councillors decided to object against the plans, however the final decision rests with Sedgemoor District Council, which will consider the plans this autumn.
If approved, the Travelodge would be located next to the town’s planned new Aldi superstore, pictured in the plans above, which was approved by Sedgemoor District Council in May.
Sedgemoor District Council is welcoming comments on the Travelodge application – reference number 11/17/00096 – until the deadline of August 25th when consultation closes.