A CONTROVERSIAL deal to bring a multi-million-pound business class hotel to Basingstoke has been given the go-ahead.

The Village Hotels proposal, which includes a licensed pub, restaurant, Starbucks coffee shop, meeting and events facilities, state-of-the-art Village Gym with heated swimming pool, and on-site car parking, has come in for criticism, mainly for the financial impact the gym would have on the charity-run Basingstoke Sports Centre.

The Basingstoke Sports Trust, which runs the centre, said it was disappointed to hear the legal paperwork had been signed.

A joint statement from the centre’s chief executive officer James Starbuck and board of trustees chair Martyn Frost said: “The charity has no objection to developments that benefit the wider town and acknowledge that the council believe what they refer to as a ‘business class hotel’ will be beneficial for Basing View, [but] the council has failed to demonstrate that there is any unmet demand that requires such a significant additional leisure offering so close to the town centre.

“This is also not about us being afraid of genuine competition. The charity’s understanding is that the development itself is unable to stand on its own commercially.

“Whilst the hotel is building the property at its own cost there must be a question mark over the commercial viability of the development that has resulted in the council agreeing a number of advantageous terms with Village Hotels such as a peppercorn lease for 250 years.”

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council (BDBC) and Village Hotels has exchanged legal paperwork to allow the American hotel chain to build a 153-room, business class hotel in Basing View, despite a judicial review on the matter still to be heard.

The move has attracted controversy but cabinet member for property and development, Councillor John Izzet, said the deal is a step in the right direction in terms of the regeneration of Basing View.

Cllr Izzet said: “If we are going to compete with places such as Reading for jobs and businesses we need to make sure that we have these high-class facilities in place.

“We are confident that this type of deal will bring more investment into the borough and that is what we want, to bring more money and more jobs into Basingstoke.”

If planning permission is granted, the hotel is expected to open in 2020.