Longleat reveal plans to open new attractions and demolish crumbling historic hotel

PUBLISHED: 13:00 26 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:17 26 July 2017

Cox's Mill Hotel in Cheddar Gorge.

Cox's Mill Hotel in Cheddar Gorge.

Archant

A historic village hotel could be torn down and replaced with a new ‘iconic’ building, its owners have revealed.

Cox's Mill Hotel in Cheddar Gorge. Cox's Mill Hotel in Cheddar Gorge.

Leisure company Longleat has unveiled its plans for Cheddar’s gorge and caves, as well as the crumbling Cox’s Mill.

The hotel, which was formerly called The Cliff Hotel, was a destination hotel in the gorge during the 1800s but has been vacant since 2010.

David Gillingham, head of operations at Longleat, proposed four options for the hotel’s future, ranging from leaving it alone and carrying out minor repairs, to knocking it down and starting fresh – which is the company’s preferred choice.

Leon Toake, the gorge’s operations manager, said: “My vision is to create an iconic and wondrous location.

Cox's Mill Hotel in Cheddar Gorge. Cox's Mill Hotel in Cheddar Gorge.

“Our intention is to design and come up with a way of using that space for something like an art gallery, climbing hub or activity centre.”

Mr Gillingham revealed the area may become parking for a short period of time while they decide what the best thing would be for the land.

He said: “There was no viable business model to take Cox’s Mill back to its former glory.

“Every floor, every staircase and every room would have to be rebuilt and it is just not viable.

Cox's Mill Hotel in Cheddar Gorge. Cox's Mill Hotel in Cheddar Gorge.

“By knocking down Cox’s Mill we can restore the view of the gorge and create an area which could be used for parking.”

Residents were able to vote on what they wanted to do with the hotel and only a handful wanted the building to be left alone, while several people voted in favour of it being knocked down and turned into something new.

Longleat revealed the new management team had already invested £620,000 in the business in the past year on conservation, rebranding and updating its current attractions.

Longleat has decided to refit its shop – which was badly damaged during the November floods – and install an escape room and Beyond The View, a cinematic experience of the gorge to replace the open top bus, which was not ‘fit for purpose’, and both are expected to open later this year.

Mr Gillingham said: “In the past, there has been problems communicating with the community but we aim to make sure this is a thing of the past.”

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