Travelodge wants to go into partnership with the city council to build a new £4 million hotel in Canterbury.
The chain, which already has an hotel in Ivy Lane, is looking for another site and has written to the local authority proposing a “pioneering” financial deal to get it built.
But hotelier Sandie de Rougemont, who runs the House of Agnes in St Dunstan’s, warned it could put smaller operators out of business.
House of Agnes manager Sandie de Rougemont
She said: “What we don’t need is another budget hotel putting the squeeze on us. We have already felt the effect from the new Premier Inn, particularly from the loss of corporate business and are paying extra rates for the BID.
“There are 72 bed and breakfast and small hoteliers in the city and many offer a higher quality. But in the winter there is not enough business to go around. It will certainly kill some off and I would urge the council not to get involved.”
Travelodge says its business model would involve either the council keeping ownership of the new hotel and using the rental income to support the funding, or sell it with Travelodge as its operator and retain the profits for the benefit of the local community.
Similar partnerships between Travelodge and other local authorities including Cherwell, Bicester, Thetford and Reigate have already been struck.
Canterbury city council leader John Gilbey
Council leader John Gilbey has only recently returned from Christmas holidays and says he has not yet seen the correspondence.
He said: “I don’t know the details of this yet but, of course, we will look at it if there is a chance it could prove financially beneficial to the council and therefore council tax payers.
“It seems to me that one of the first issues would be to find where centrally such a hotel could be built.
“There was a proposal by Kent Cricket Club for a new hotel at the ground but it said it couldn’t find an interested operator.
“We do have the ability to borrow money for these sort of ventures. But there would certainly need to be a great deal of investigation before we would commit to anything.”
Travelodge chief executive Peter Gowers said: “We are delighted to be working with local authorities to help local communities realise the income potential, job creation and other community benefits that a Travelodge-backed development scheme can bring to their area.
“There are considerable growth opportunities for Travelodge in the area and we are looking forward to adding further hotels to the portfolio as we extend the programme over the years ahead.”
But Canterbury Connected Business Improvement District boss Bob Jones also fired a note of caution saying it was important that the long-established bed and breakfast and smaller hotels in the city did not suffer as a result of the development.