Plans for an 80-bed hotel and restaurant in the town centre of Yeovil have been approved.
Work on the Premier Inn and Beefeater restaurant in Key Market House, known locally as the old Somerfield supermarket building, is hoped to start early in the new year.
Building owners Stockland UK also hope to secure a deal with a major high street restaurant, such as Nando’s, in the coming months to occupy the rest of the ground floor space.
The second and third floors would both house 40 hotel bedrooms each.
The hotel chain, which is publicised by comedian Lenny Henry, struck a deal with the building’s owners earlier this year.
The development has been heralded as a boost to the town’s economy by business leaders and seen as a vote of confidence in the town.
The hotel and Beefeater restaurant are scheduled to create 65 jobs with more jobs being created with whoever takes on the rest of the ground floor space.
Ken Lindsay, managing director of Stockland UK, said the firm was pleased to secure planning consent in the town.
He said: “We are very pleased the scheme has been approved.
“We have worked closely with the council prior and during the planning process so are happy with the outcome.
“There are a few small issues we have to deal with before we get on site but we hope to get building under way early next year.
“Once we are on site we will be able to give an indication of when we hope to be open.
“We have had serious interest in the vacant ground floor space and are in discussions with a lot of familiar and well-known restaurant operators at present.
“We are really excited about what our scheme has to offer Yeovil.”
Fears over no car parking being provided by the hotel had been raised in opposition to the scheme but hundreds of car parking spaces at Stars Lane and at Yeo Leisure Park are situated nearby.
The entrance to the hotel will be situated opposite the Cineworld building with the ground floor walls of the building likely to be replaced with glass frontage.
The second and third floors will be demolished and rebuilt.
South Somerset District Council has asked the applicant to consider installing a cash machine in the wall of the building as there is no other hole in the wall at the lower part of Middle Street.
Richard Pearson, acquisition manager for Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants, said: “Our customers are telling us they want more choice and more locations across the UK and that’s why we’re working hard to increase the 49,000 bedrooms we have today to our target of 65,000 bedrooms by 2016.
“Old Station Road is in a great location for a new Premier Inn and Beefeater Grill. With planning permission now secured, we can work to bring our respected brands to Yeovil, create 65 new jobs and help to support local businesses by attracting additional visitors to stay in the town.
“These are real positives for Yeovil and I look forward to working closely with Stockland to get the hotel built and the doors open to our customers as soon as possible.”
The council hopes the scheme will regenerate the bottom part of town.
In his report recommending the plans be approved, planning officer Simon Fox said: “Rather than harming the centre it is widely considered this aspect gives the area its definition and in the case of South Western Terrace has been seen as part of the regeneration approach to encourage eating establishments with outside seating.
“Given the use will attract a lot of people the site is ideally sited. Indeed, the introduction of an 80-bed hotel also has the potential to bring significant extra spending to the centre and as part of that support those previously discussed eating establishments plus the one being proposed as part of the scheme.
“Tourism may receive a boost. Other local services and amenities are similarly likely to benefit. The site is a short walk from the bus station, and is adjacent to a taxi rank, being a five-minute ride from both local train stations.”