MORE than 100 residents, including town councillors, looked at the controversial proposed plans for a Premier Inn Hotel in Ashburton on Tuesday.

The drop-in event was at St Andrew’s Church Hall in the town. Dartmoor National Park Authority will be looking at the plans in the coming weeks to make a decision on the application for a £5.2 million 80-bed hotel next to Ashburton’s police station off the A38 at Dolbeare.

James Anderson, of the Whitbread company which owns Premier Inn, said there were many questions and positive comments from residents.

He said: ‘It was a nice opportunity to introduce ourselves to the community. People had lots of questions and were very respectful.

‘The location at Ashburton appeals to us for its useful links to the A38 for business guests and the national park for leisure guests.

‘We believe we’ll bring people into the town and be an economic boost, including providing 30 local full and part-time year-round jobs.

‘Our customer base is different to B&Bs and smaller hotels. If successful in Ashburton we believe we would be providing a new location for our customers, not taking away from smaller businesses.’

At Ashburton Town Council meeting earlier this month accommodation business owners warned councillors that a Premier Inn would ‘kill off’ their businesses.

Chamber of Trade chairman Sean Wilson said promises of the enterprise boosting the local economy were something of a myth, although opinion within the Chamber of Trade was divided.

Other speakers at the town council meeting said the occupancy rate for local accommodations was, at best, 60 per cent in the summer. They urged the town council to think long and hard before supporting or objecting to the venture, which Dartmoor planners will have the final word on.