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Torquay Premier Inn will open in 2024

Friday, 13 October 2023 06:33

By Guy Henderson, local democracy reporter

Premier Inn under construction at Torquay (Google Street View)

It's been dogged by delays

A new Torquay Premier Inn, which has been delayed for years and cost Torbay Council millions of pounds, will finally open in time for the 2024 holiday season.

Building the 120-bedroom Harbour View on the old Terrace car park site – constructed by the council for the hotel chain – has been dogged by problems from the start.

Council-funded building projects were a policy under the former Lib Dem/Independent coalition, which lost power in May. The bay’s Wickes’ department store was constructed under that regime. But the Premier Inn will take another half a million pounds of council funds to get it over the finishing line.

Director of pride in place Alan Denby told a council scrutiny committee it is finally on track to be finished in February and open by the middle of March.

However, the cost of the project keeps escalating, and the committee agreed to authorise up to another £540,000 from contingency funds to get it done, after hearing that they had no other option.

It was originally supposed to cost £11 million, but by the time it is complete that will have soared to more than £14.5 million.

“It is my fervent hope not to have to explain any further expenditure on this,” said Mr Denby.

“We are in a position which we do not want to be in. It is wholly unsatisfactory.”

Planning permission for the hotel was granted in 2019 and work began early the following year, with Midas Construction handling the demolition of the old car park and the building of the new Premier Inn. It was planned that the new hotel would open for summer 2022.

Early in 2020 work stopped for ‘structural reasons’ and later in the year the covid pandemic again brought work to a standstill. An unexpected sewer survey added another three months to the timetable.

By January 2022 work had stopped again, and the following month Midas collapsed into administration.

A report to the meeting said: “The project has had a difficult history.”

Last autumn the budget for the project increased again by £3 million to £14 million, but the latest report noted: “The previously extended budget to complete the construction is now insufficient due to increased costs.”

Reasons include a shortage of available contractors and rising material and labour costs.

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