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Funding crisis hits airport hotel plans

PUBLISHED: 11:14 20 May 2010 | UPDATED: 10:13 12 August 2010

AIRPORT chiefs have admitted they are struggling to secure funding for a hotel they received planning permission for some nine months ago. Plans for a 76-bed building were given the go-ahead in August last year yet little progress has been made on the p

AIRPORT chiefs have admitted they are struggling to secure funding for a hotel they received planning permission for some nine months ago.

Plans for a 76-bed building were given the go-ahead in August last year yet little progress has been made on the project at Biggin Hill Airport in Main Road, Biggin Hill.

Owners Biggin Hill Airport Limited (BHAL) said they are trying to clinch financial backing for the hotel which they aim to complete in time for the 2012 Olympics.

But BHAL refused to comment about how much the project will cost or how far off its cash target it is.

Asked if the current financial climate was making acquiring capital difficult, a BHAL spokesperson said: "That has a significant bearing on it, yes.

"Funding is currently one of the biggest discussions at the moment. The hotel is definitely going ahead, this is not pie in the sky but there is a lot of sorting out to be done.

"You need the building blocks to be put in place. If you get one of these things out of order you can generate further delays. There is a critical path."

Quizzed on where the money would come from, he added: "We have not released that information yet. Some of the money will come from abroad."

He agreed that the remainder would come from banks and investors in the UK.

Architects EPR who worked with BHAL in designing the approved plans said dialogue was continuing but that no "big progress" had been made.

Architect Martin Potter said he would be delighted to work on the hotel but stressed it was crucial that headway was made in the next couple of months if the project was to come to fruition in time for the Olympics.

He said: "It is getting a bit tight. It is still possible but you don't want to be opening the week before the Olympics. They have to make a decision in the next couple of months.

"It's strange times at the moment, everywhere. Proper plans and recruiting contractors all costs a lot of money and nobody wants to commit to that unless they have the finances behind them.

"It will be a smashing project and we would really like to work on it."

Plans for the hotel include a pilots' lounge, a club lounge, a restaurant and bar with views of the runway and training facilities.

Two former applications by BHAL and hotel company Ramada were rejected because of their size and 'unimaginative' design.

kate.nelson@archant.co.uk

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