A new 65-bed hotel will be built in Eastbourne despite widespread opposition from local hoteliers.
The Borough Council planning committee met earlier this week to discuss the controversial plans for the former Co-op building at 202 Terminus Road.
And despite hearing from disgruntled guest house managers, councillors voted to approve the plans – meaning hotel giant Premier Inn can move into the empty site.
Built in the 1930s, the art deco building was home to a department store until the Co-operative Group pulled out, taking 16 jobs with them and leaving the town with a unit the council struggled to shift.
Premier Inn has promised a complete refurb while maintaining the building’s character and a council spokesman told the Herald the scheme would ‘provide a boost for the local economy and extra tourist accommodation as well as much-needed jobs.’
Members of Eastbourne Hotels Association (EHA) disagree and vice-chairman Darren Weir was among those vocal about their opposition to the plans, saying the extra competition was both unwelcome and unnecessary.
He said, “Occupancy rates for budget stays (like those likely to be provided by Premier Inn) are not at a level which will need 65 more beds.
“We are not full to bursting. What this will mean for a lot of EHA members is they will have to consider closing during the winter, which will therefore mean laying off staff.”
He said members were particularly upset at the way the local authority had relaxed a long-standing agreement not to allow new hotels outside an established accommodation zone.
He said, “We are concerned there has been a bending of policy in favour of big business at the expense of smaller business.
“It [the decision to approve the plans] has deflated morale. Businesses are already suffering and this will have a real impact.”
He revealed the EHA would be looking into the possibility of an independent review of the decision and could even consider asking for a judicial review.
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