CIVIC chiefs have approved a new budget hotel for Winchester.

City councillors approved plans for a 101-bed hotel last week to be built next to the city fire station in Winnall Manor Road, Winnall.

Planners recommended the development to a planning committee last Thursday (Dec 13) arguing it would address a shortage of beds in the city.

Stewart Deering, of Reef Estates, which made the application on Premier Inn's behalf, said the hotel would be a real benefit to Winchester and create 58 jobs.

He said: “Over the course of the past 15 months we have worked very closely with the officers to create an acceptable and sustainable development.

“This development will act as a stimulant for tourism, business and job creation. There are significant benefits for tourism and the hotel will extend opportunities for visitors to spend money off site and it will not adversely impact upon traffic flow in either direction.”

Eloise Appleby, council assistant director for economic prosperity, added: “Winchester has long been a place that people want to visit and then head out to other attractions in the New Forest.

“We can sustain more than one hotel and if a central location came up we have good reason to believe that could also be a good development for the city.”

Councillors welcomed the development as a boost for city business.

Cllr David McLean said: “Tourism, jobs, destination, economy and the university. This application will support them all and I congratulate the work of our officers to bring this to fruition.”

Cllr Ray Pearce added: “This is a golden opportunity to progress getting people to stay in Winchester for one or two days.”

But concerns were raised over increasing existing traffic problems in Easton Lane and Winnall Manor Road, including parked cars blocking the road and heavy traffic jams tailing back to junction nine of the M3.

Cllr Ernie Jeffs said: “Winnall Manor Road junction is notorious when Easton Lane gets jammed. Anyone coming down Easton Lane into Winnall Manor Road will find it very difficult.”

County council senior engineer Ben Clifton said the county was planning to address traffic problems at junction nine, particularly with the A34 junction.

He added the 89-space hotel car park would be more than enough to meet customer needs.

The approval is subject to legal agreements including full travel and car park management plans and a contribution of £46,000 from the applicant to improve cycling infrastructure in Winchester.