Members of the Eastbourne Hospitality Association have spoken out in favour of the plans to turn the former Heatherleigh Hotel into flats.
A planning application has been submitted to Eastbourne Borough Council seeking approval to turn the vacant hotel into 12 holiday flats and 16 residential flats.
The building has been empty since 2011 after the hotel, which was dubbed ‘Fawlty Towers’ by guests, closed pending a controversial court case.
In a letter to Eastbourne Borough Council, chairman of the Eastbourne Hospitality Association, Darren Weir, expressed members’ support for the proposed development.
He said, “We support this application. The hotel is unsustainable in its current form and has not contributed positively to the town’s bedroom stock for many years. The town has sufficient bedroom stock to cope with demand – that bedroom stock is soon to increase further with the re-opening of the Ambassador hotel and of course, increased with the opening of the Premier Inn. It is just not economically viable to bring the hotel up to standard.
“The current tourism policy of ‘retention at all cost’ is outdated and if we are ever to raise quality, provide variety and be a first-class resort, the planning committee and administration need to get on the right page.”
Mr Weir also answered residents’ concerns about parking ahead of what he claims is an ‘inevitable appeal’.
He said, “Issues raised by residents as to parking are, with respect, ridiculous as if it were a hotel there would be a worse battle for parking.
“The alternative for this property is that it will deteriorate and potentially become another “Lynwood” or “Lathom”. Would the neighbours want that on their doorstep?”
The Heatherleigh Hotel has come under new ownership since its closure four years ago. In 2013, renovations began but soon came to a grinding halt.
The application was submitted to the council on December 5, 2014 and is still in the planning phase. A decision date for the application has not yet been set by the planning office.