Lake District B&Bs fear Premier Inn plan could mean rate war

B&B owners in Ambleside have raised concerns over a planned £5m hotel development in Ambleside by budget chain Premier Inn.

The chain has reportedly purchased the former University of Cumbria building on The Struggle, with a view to converting it into a 64-key budget hotel.

The project would create 30 full- and part-time jobs, however, local hoteliers fear the low-cost hotel would slash off-season room prices cutting a vital revenue stream for competitors, according to a report in the Westmorland Gazette.

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Tourism bodies are said to be divided, with Cumbria Tourism saying the new jobs should be welcomed and that a national hotel chain would help lure more visitors.

But the Lakes Hospitality Association believes national budget brands could harm the ‘character’ of the area and that a price war would be unwelcome at the cheaper end of the market, the report stated.

Company representatives  said the project’s "small on-site restaurant" will be "predominantly aimed at providing guests with breakfasts and light meals but would not compete with existing restaurants and pubs in Ambleside".

Residents have said the development could also lead to access problems up the steep hill leading on to Kirkstone Pass, where 65 car parking spaces are planned.

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