A regeneration campaigner says hopes are fading that a hotel will be built on Mansfield Leisure Park, despite a planning watchdog giving plans the green light.
Mansfield District Council’s planning committee had rejected the multi-million pound hybrid application for a 60-bed hotel and three restaurants built between the Odeon Cinema and Walkers Bingo unit, claiming land closer to the town centre needed to be considered.
Coun Kate Allsop - portfolio holder for economic regeneration on the council - was angry with the committee’s decision and has always insisted that no other site was suitable.
Despite welcoming the planning inspectorate’s recent decision to overturn the plans, Coun Allsop now fears only the restaurants will now be built.
A section 106 agreement with the original application stated that the restaurants could not be built without the hotel, but this has since been scrapped by the inspectorate.
“The agreement was they could not open the restaurants until the hotel was completed, but that has now gone,” said Coun Allsop.
“Mansfield has missed a great opportunity, there will be jobs created through the restaurants, but there could have been so many more with the hotel.
“All the way through the process they (the applicant) said how difficult it would be to build a hotel, now they have said they will look at it one more time, but if I’m being realistic it would be much easier for them to just put the restaurants in.
“I will continue to work behind the scenes to attract a hotel into Mansfield, we desperately need it.
“It should never have been turned down by Mansfield District Council’s planning committee in the first place.”
The committee voted to reject the original application in August last year, with members arguing a site closer to the town centre would be more suited for a hotel to help regenerate that area.
Coun Allsop counter argued that mid-range hotel chains, like Travelodge and Premier Inns, were not interested in opening in the town centre.
More than 120 jobs could be created by the three restaurants, with the likes of Nando’s, Chiquito, Bella Italia and Prezzo having already shown an interest.
But Coun Martin Lee, leader of the Mansfield Labour Group, says he is ‘not happy with the outcome’, arguing that it will only serve to damage the town centre.
He said: “I’ve always thought three chain restaurants built away from the town centre will damage the businesses in the town and could stop future development.
“The hotel was always a red herring and it’s a tactic developers use, a sweetener, that was never going to happen.
“It’s a disappointing situation we find ourselves in.”
Coun Lee said more needs to be done to stimulate the early-evening economy of the town centre, and a hotel and cinema within the town centre boundaries needs to be considered, perhaps on the site of the old bus station on Rosemary Street.