£7m luxury hotel and homes project is finally underway after eight years of delays
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Work to build a £7m boutique hotel and luxury homes complex near Wells is finally under way – more than eight years after the project was originally granted planning permission.
The hotel at Langham is expected to create between 40 and 50 jobs and is due to open next summer.
It is being built on North Street at the former site of Langham Glass, which is now based in Fakenham.
In addition, 25 luxury homes are being built next to the hotel. The original project was granted planning permission in May 2006.
It was held up firstly by the threat of a legal challenge and then by the recession.
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When the proposals first came to light many villagers felt the development would not fit the character of the area and, while there is now wide community support for the project, some of those concerns still remain.
One person pursued a judicial review, several years ago, but withdrew just days before the case reached the High Court.
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Because of the recession, Ian Johnston, owner of Avada Langham Ltd, a sister company of Avada Country Homes, said he had to delay and re-work his plans to make the project economically viable.
Mr Johnston, who described the hotel as 'unashamedly up-market', said: 'At the end of a very long road I am delighted to be finally moving forward.
'This is a win-win situation for everyone – the local community, the local authority, for us as developers, for the 40 to 50 people who will secure jobs, for the local tourism industry and for the many other businesses which will benefit.'
He added: 'I've heard nothing but very kind comments about the visual quality of development and how well it is in-keeping to the local area.'
Avada Langham Ltd will be providing £500,000 towards affordable housing in the Langham area and £58,000 to Langham Village School.
Langham Parish Council chairman Dave Curtis said: 'There have been a range of opinions on the parish council about this development over the years but, personally, I have always been supportive of it as it will bring jobs and a new amenity to the village.'
Parish council vice-chairman John Hope said: 'I still feel this is a very large development in a very small village.
'It has been approved, so we now have to accept it.
'I hope most of the jobs promised are full-time jobs because that is the only benefit Langham will get from this, as far as I'm concerned.'
Mr Johnston said he expects the vast majority of the homes to be used as holiday homes but owners have agreed for the hotel to manage the properties and rent them out to holidaymakers when the owners are not there.
Meanwhile, a Traffic Regulation Order is being considered by Norfolk County Council which could lead to the speed limit being reduced to 20mph along part of North Street, which goes past the new development and Langham Village School.