The first steps of proposals to bring a Premier Inn to Hastings has been given the go ahead by council leaders.
On Monday (October 7), Hastings Borough Council’s cabinet agreed to progress plans to build an 80-bed hotel and restaurant at the Cornwallis Street Car Park, which the council would lease out to a private operator.
While the council has not explicitly named its partner as Premier Inn, papers considered at the meeting reference plans to exchange contracts with the hotel group in May next year.
The same papers predict a planning application would come forward by July with building work to begin in 2021 if the scheme is approved by town planners.
Speaking at the meeting, council leader Peter Chowney said: “I think this is an important economic development potential and is also a useful use of this site.
“Yes, you will lose some car parking that is the downside of this potential development, but you have got Priory Meadow [car park] right next door and you have got on-street car parking there as well.
“There is a relatively large amount of car parking – which is never full – in that area so I think it is reasonable to consider, we have already earmarked the site for development for that reason.
“More tourist accommodation right there in the town centre is something I think will be of benefit to local businesses, the local economy and the visitor economy generally.”
Cllr Chowney also pointed out the site had already been earmarked for housing as part of the 2015 local plan.
The decision to move ahead with the proposal was unanimously supported by the council’s cabinet.
Speaking in support of the plans, Conservative group leader Rob Lee said: “We are way way behind where we should be with our provision [of hotel beds].
“We are never going to get back to the heady days of 8,000 beds but we do need a new hotel. A modern chain hotel.
“We need a new facility like that and I think it will be good for us. It is less to me about an income stream actually, rather than having the increased facility.”
Cllr Lee also asked officers for an update on the progress of proposals to convert Queensbury House into a 103-bedroom easyHotel, which were granted planning permission in October last year.
Officers said no further details of the easyHotel proposals had come forward to the council since the granting of planning permission. However, they added that the lack of hotel beds in Hastings meant both proposals would be welcomed.
As a result of the decision made at the meeting, the council will begin the preparatory work (surveys and legal agreements) needed for future development of the site.
Under the early proposals the development would be a four-storey hotel, to be built by the council at an estimated cost of around £7m.
The council would retain ownership of both the site and the building, which would it would rent out to the hotel operator. It is understood the council was approached to do a deal on these terms.
While approached by the developer directly, the council has a legal duty to ensure it obtains best value on the deal. As such, it will also seek offers from other developers and hotel operators before proceeding.
More details of the proposals are expected to come forward as part of the budget process in February, with contracts expected to be exchanged in May.