WELSH deprtment store firm Leekes have unveiled plans to build a Premier Inn hotel and a Beefeater restaurant in the car park of their Melksham store.

The Talbot Green-based company founded in 1897 has applied to Wiltshire Council for permission to build a 71-bed hotel with a 246-seat restaurant on the ground floor.

Both the hotel and restaurant will be operated by Whitbread Group PLC through its Premier Inn and Beefeater chains, with the restaurant open to non-hotel guests.

The hotel would take up 100 of the existing 507 customer parking spaces at the Beanacre Road store, on the garden centre side of the store bordering Dunch Lane. The hotel and restaurant would create 20 full-time jobs and 30 part-time positions.

Chris Leeke, operations director of Leekes Retail, said: “We were presented with an opportunity to build a hotel and restaurant for Premier Inn and Beefeater and felt it was something that would complement our site.

“As a business we are always looking for opportunities to make best use of our properties and generate reasons to visit our stores.

“For historic planning reasons “Our stores have what are now excessively large car parks for our requirements given the extended opening hours we now operate and the move to researching and often purchasing online.

“We have worked with the planning department to ensure the project is in keeping with the local environment. We have also spoken to the Mayor and local councillors who have all been very supportive of our plans.”

The project is expected to provide 50 full-time equivalent jobs during the construction phase. Leekes says the scheme will contribute £2.4 million annually to the local economy.

Premier Inn is the UK’s largest hotel brand, with more than 72,000 rooms and 785 hotels.

It operates hotels in a variety of locations including city centres, suburbs and airports competing with the likes of Travelodge and Ibis hotels

Its parent company Whitbread employs over 40,000 people worldwide and says it is committed to sustainable, good design.

Whitbread’s Beefeater chain of more than 140 pub restaurants has developed over the past 40 years. It is positioned upmarket of Whitbread’s Brewers Fayre chain.

The proposed restaurant is intended for hotel guests and the general public.

Leekes says it will improve access from the A350 to the car park as part of the scheme, which can be seen online at https://planning. wiltshire.gov.uk, reference 19/00614/FUL.

Comments on the plans can be made until February 22.