DEVELOPERS are planning to add another hotel to Swindon town centre's skyline.

Northern Irish firm McAleer and Rushe have applied to the council for permission to build a 200-bedroom Jurys Inn hotel and more than 100 flats on the former Arriva Ford site in Fleming Way.

The plan also includes a business centre, restaurant and café. It is the fourth town centre hotel development to be submitted to the council in the last 18 months.

Existing hotels have welcomed the proposed competition, but smaller hoteliers are less than happy as they say it will damage their business.

Coun Philip Young, Swindon Council's cabinet member for economic development, regeneration and development, said: "This application shows that the town is thriving and new businesses want to move here.

"It's very positive news because it will create jobs and sends a message that national firms are keen to open up businesses in the town."

The Advertiser recently reported that George Wimpey South West had purchased the Goddard Arms hotel in Old Town.

The owners blamed the sale on the increasingly competitive market in the town, but Coun Young said the new arrival was welcome.

He said: "There has been an under provision of hotel accommodation in the town for many years and this is evidence that a balance is being found. Hotels are an interesting case because they seem to be recession proof, so it is good to have them in a town."

If permission is granted the building will stand on the corner of Fleming Way and Princes Street, adjacent to The Exchange development site. It would be just a few minutes walk away from the Travelodge and Thistle Hotels.

Future competitors say they are not concerned by the potential new arrival.

Andrew Spink, manager of the De Vere at Shaw Ridge, said: "Speaking for the town this has to be great news and part of the continued success of its development.

"From a commercial point of view it's indicative of the attraction of Swindon for major firms.

"Of course as a hotelier it means we will have to buck our ideas up, but that is true of any business.

"We are confident that we can respond, we welcome Jurys Inn and may the best man win."

Smaller hotel owners are not so confident for the future.

Mark Gregson, owner of the Royston Hotel in Victoria Road, said the bigger chains could afford to squeeze local businesses out of the area.

He said: "When the Travelodge opened for business I think we reached the limit of beds to customers, and if another comes along I think it will have a negative impact. The big companies have an advantage because they can afford to cut their prices by half for six months.

"They can run at a loss due to their financial backing and that's something we just can't do."

Central ward councillor Derique Montaut said the problem was similar to the dominance of big supermarkets. "While we recognise the positive side of this for Swindon, attention has to be given to the local traders who could be force out of existence," he said.

"It's not an easy thing to do but we have to keep a balance between helping the local people and welcoming new business and jobs."