FLATS near a Frome regeneration site will be turned into a new hotel after plans were approved by councillors.

Earthaus Property Ltd. put forward plans to convert the four existing flats at 1 Saxonvale in Frome into an eight-bedroom hotel, which would overlook the Saxonvale regeneration site.

The plans were called into Somerset Council’s planning committee east after councillors raised concerns about the loss of one-bedroom accommodation in the town.

Despite these concerns, the committee voted to approve the plans with minimal debate, arguing it would be good for the economy.

Each of the new hotel rooms created from the conversion will be en-suite, with the occupants being within walking distance of the town centre.

The hotel rooms will be arranged across the first and second floors of the current building, with the ground floor remaining intact.

Councillor Michael Dunk, whose Frome West division includes the site, spoke out against the plans when the planning committee east convened in Shepton Mallet on May 7.

He said: “I’m unhappy about this, because it’s not the sort of accommodation we’re particularly short on in Frome.

“There are a lot of AirBnBs, as we all know – there are three or four in my street alone. But what we are short of is one- or two-bedroom flats.

“We need that sort of thing in the town centre, and it’s a shame that we don’t have a policy that covers that.”

Planning officer Carlton Langford clarified that there was no policy within the current Mendip Local Plan (either Part I or Part II) which would allow for the plans to be refused on the grounds of a shortage of particular kinds of accommodation in a given area.

While both parts of the Local Plan include provisions for the amount of affordable housing within new developments (30 per cent for any new development of ten homes or above), these can be revised downwards if concerns emerge about the viability of a given scheme.

Councillor Dawn Denton (Frome North) said: “Frome is the up-and-coming destination. There are loads of events happening in the town, and there is a lack of hotel space.”

After less than 20 minutes’ debate, the committee voted to approve the plans by five votes to three, with one abstention.

Councilllor Ros Wyke, portfolio holder for economic development, planning and assets, told the full council in late-April that a final decision on the future development would be taken before the end of the summer.