Historic estate's hotel plan

Plans for a multi-million-pound hotel with apartments and leisure facilities have taken their first steps to becoming reality.

Plans for a multi-million-pound hotel with apartments and leisure facilities have taken their first steps to becoming reality.

An outline planning application has been submitted for the major development on the Henham estate, between Beccles and Southwold.

Estate manager Hektor Rous hopes councillors will support his plans, in which case he will draw up a detailed planning application which will include the design for the hotel. It is promised that the building will look “contemporary and modern” and be “environmentally sustainable”. It will include restaurants and cafes, conference facilities, a beauty spa and gym, function room and an auditorium for theatre, music and cinema. If it goes ahead, the estate will become a major local employer offering potentially hundreds of jobs.

Mr Rous is the son of Keith Rous, the sixth earl of Stradbroke, who is bankrolling the project from his home in Australia.

The family's aim is to turn the park into a “premier tourist and leisure destination” at a cost of £60m or more.

Mr Rous said: “This is probably the last and only opportunity in Waveney and probably in Suffolk to create this many bed spaces for tourism, with all the associated benefits of regional employment and facilities which tourists and locals alike can use.

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“From the park's point of view, this is the chance to preserve Henham Park forever. Making it viable and self-sufficient will save it for the future.”

He says that the estate risks becoming unviable if its agricultural tenants lose their farm subsidies, and that in 2013 it will lose more money with the conclusion of the environmentally sensitive area agreement and the end of quarrying on the estate.