PLANS for a new town centre hotel and steakhouse have been called "a positive vote of confidence in Swindon".

Hospitality giant Whitbread has struck a deal with Swindon Borough Council and is poised to bring a £17 million Premier Inn and Bar+Block restaurant to the former Aspen House site.

The land currently sits behind hoardings opposite The Savoy pub in Regent Street.

Peter Lawson, who works for planner Turley, gave a presentation at last week's South Swindon Parish Council meeting.

He said: “Whitbread would like to have even more hotel rooms in the town centre.

“Hotels perform particularly well in Swindon. They’re predominantly used for business rather than pleasure but rest assured, Whitbread wouldn’t be spending £17m if they weren’t very confident of filling those rooms to at least 85 per cent capacity.

“If you look at town centres across the country, Swindon only really has two significant hotels in the centre.

"Compared to other similarly sized towns, it doesn’t have that many hotels.”

Councillor Stan Pajak queried whether the planned building was too big and if the new hotel would be seen as low-end.

But Mr Lawson countered: “There’s been a gradual push upmarket for Premier Inn.

“In the old days Premier Inn was a rival to Travelodge but now there are key differences between the two.

“Premier Inn is very much mid-market in terms of rooms and facilities on offer.

“The old Aspen House had two elements. The plinth area at the back which was about four or five stories tall and then it had the 10-storey tower.

“What this design does is even it out across the site. With that said, the site would still have a plinth and then the height would be set-backwards from the frontage.”

Mr Lawson revealed Whitbread is hoping to have a planning application submitted by the end of the month and wants to be on the site by April or May of next year.

He added: “It will take around 14 months for construction. Whitbread have the money, and they’re committed to the scheme and would like to move it along as soon as possible.”

The presentation described benefits including the creation of 84 jobs and attracting more visitors to the centre, who “will spend in the surrounding businesses".