BRINGING hotels to the heart of Warrington over the next two decades to boost economic growth is one of the priorities for senior council figures.

The ambitious town centre masterplan, which includes the delivery of more than 8,000 homes, was backed by the Labour-run authority’s cabinet last month.

The approval means it will have the document as its 20-year vision for the development of the area.

Town Hall bosses say it will provide a flexible framework for growth, development and regeneration.

The document says, as an important business location and a driver of economic growth, the town centre ‘should have more’ hotels.

It added: “Our research and market analysis concludes there is growing demand for more bed space and a real opportunity.

“We are in discussions with a number of developers and specific operators, who are interested in bringing forward hotels in the town.

“They have looked at occupation figures and income and have made specific offers to bring forward a development on two sites in the town.

“The above key business locations are also priorities for new hotel development coupled with a more boutique offer in the Time Square and the Cultural Quarter area.”

The ambition to bring hotels to the area through the masterplan has been welcomed by Cllr Bob Barr, leader of the town’s Liberal Democrats.

He says Warrington’s centrality is ‘one of its biggest assets’ so anybody wanting to make their way to the north west for work ‘should really be staying’ in the town.

“But what I am concerned about is the amount of employment space, I’ve been arguing for flexible employment space for a very long time, which I think is important,” he said.

“I think the patterns of working are changing quite dramatically and the fact that it’s been difficult to let space in The Base shouldn’t put people off because that is not the sort of trendy, flexible working space that young people are looking for.

“I would like to see the Cabinet Works site doing something really interesting, which is providing a bit of hotel-style accommodation, a bit of flexible living accommodation and a bit of flexible working accommodation.

“It’s one of the very few opportunities we’ve got, until the waterfront starts opening up, to do that in the centre of the town.”

Cllr Barr also hailed Andy Farrall, the council’s former executive director for economic regeneration, growth and environment, who retired from his post last year.

The politician praised Mr Farrall for his work on the masterplan and his ‘model of mending Warrington’.

“I know Andy was a controversial officer but, nevertheless, I think he has left a great legacy for the town and that masterplan is it,” added Cllr Barr.