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Highbridge Hotel development facing cash struggle
THE YMCA has insisted the Highbridge Hotel redevelopment WILL happen – after the Weekly News was shown a secret council report which appears to suggest the project faces a huge funding shortfall.
The report, for the latest full meeting of Sedgemoor District Council, updated councillors on the progress of the project, which would see the YMCA convert the hotel into accommodation and a housing association build 59 homes on the neighbouring market site.
The report said the project was facing significant financial challenges and would need major investment to go forward.
At a behind-closed-doors part of the meeting, councillors gave their backing to “phase one” of the project – for the 59 homes to be built and the Highbridge Hotel to be “reinstated as a wind and water-proof building” – including the possibility of giving public money if needed.
However, the report made no mention of a timescale for development and refers to a ‘significant gap in the funding to deliver the comprehensive redevelopment of the hotel and market site.’ Allison Griffin, Sedgemoor District Council’s corporate director, said the council had not yet given any money to an outside party, but said it was not unusual for local authorities to give financial support to affordable housing schemes.
She said: “The decision of the council was to support the development going forward and to look to give some financial assistance if necessary.
“The reason we would want to support a development that is entirely affordable housing is that we would have 59 affordable houses that would meet a local need.
“All the allocations on that site will come from our waiting list.”
She added: “Our commitment is still to develop that hotel.”
Martin Hodgson, Bridgwater YMCA chief executive, said all parties were “pulling in the same direction”.
He said: “We are all working really hard to see whether we can attract the funding to make the hotel go forward because it’s very much needed.
“If we can secure the hotel, to make sure that no further damage is caused to it, that will make it easier to attract funding.
“It’s about managing people’s expectations.
“It will happen eventually.”
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