Leisure and conference centre plans for former Travelodge

Blakemore House

Blakemore House - Credit: Archant

A FORMER Travelodge located on the outskirts of Green Belt could be converted and enlarged into a conference centre and leisure facility.

Blakemore House in Little Wymondley could be refurbished and expanded, under plans by new owner Chateauform.

The French company, which owns 32 hotels across Europe, wants to build one extension for sporting facilities and changing rooms and another to host a conference and seminar centre.

The plans, which have been submitted to North Herts District Council (NHDC), proposes losing 82 hotel rooms at the former Travelodge, which closed down in February.

It also suggests changing the name of the Blakemore End Road venue to Needham House Hotel, after 16th century local architect James Needham.

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A report submitted to NHDC by Chateauform’s agent says: “The company has made a major commitment to making Needham House Hotel a successful operation that will benefit the local community.

“Chateuaform is undertaking a complete refurbishment and refitting of the existing buildings. The bedrooms will be refurnished, lounge areas will be created, gardens will be redesigned and the main building will be enlarged to offer adequate sized dining room and meeting rooms for the participants – subject to planning.”

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NHDC has warned the company that “careful consideration” will need to be given to the Green Belt location and a special case made to justify proposed expansions and alterations, in pre-application advice sought by Chateauform.

The company says in its application it believes it has made “a robust case” for this, adding: “It is imperative that additional accommodation is introduced as part of the facilities offered by the hotel.

“The current lack of such facilities clearly makes the hotel unsustainable. This will result in a genuine loss of local tourist facilities and local employment.”

Wymondley Parish Council, which spoke to Chateauform ahead of the formal application, is supportive of the plans.

Chairman Gil Seller told the Comet that concerns had initially been registered about the Green Belt, but the council was happy with proposals.

He said: “The view is that it will bring employment and can only be beneficial. It’s failed to work as a hotel over the last 40 years and Travelodge made a hash of it.

“Our view is that it could be good.”

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