A £1.1million cash boost could see a project to transform Highbridge’s worst eyesore fast-tracked.
The YMCA wants to turn the Highbridge Hotel into accommodation for young people and community facilities, and has now won money from the Homes & Communities Agency so it can start work on the project sooner.
It has also asked Sedgemoor District Council to relax a planning condition which was attached when permission was given for the combined development of the hotel and the building of 58 homes by Knightstone Housing on the neighbouring cattle market site.
Martin Hodgson, chief executive of YMCA Somerset Coast, told the Weekly News: “We want to try to bring the hotel build forward as soon as possible.
“Condition 15 encourages the developer (Knightstone) to go ahead with the hotel transformation before the last section of new housing on the cattle market site is completed, but by relaxing Condition 15 it would allow the YMCA to take over the hotel project.
“It would cost £1.79million, but we’ve just secured £1.1million from the Homes & Communities Agency, so we have the money to start as soon as possible.
“This is an iconic building and we are confident it can be completed by March 2017.”
The Highbridge Hotel site has been derelict since a huge fire occurred in April 2008 and talks have been ongoing to find a use for the site.
The YMCA wants to transform the hotel building into a mixed use development including 22 rooms for young people and community facilities such as a multiuse sports hall.
Tina Gray, of the Highbridge Residents Association, said: “We just want to see something done. That site defines Highbridge because it’s one of the first things you see when you drive in.
“That eyesore really has dragged Highbridge down. There have been a few fires there and it’s dangerous.”
She said she had concerns over the lack of job opportunities in the area for prospective YMCA tenants, but said: “The YMCA’s Riverbed building nearby is really nice and run really well, so I don’t think there will be any problems with the hotel project.”
The project was due to be discussed by Burnham and Highbridge Town Council last night (Wednesday).