YMCA Highbridge opens its doors.

A new community centre has risen from the ashes of a hotel which was gutted by fire.

The £4.6 million Highbridge YMCA building was officially opened by Sedgemoor District Council chairman, Cllr Peter Clayton, and YMCA Dulverton Group CEO, Martin Hodgson on Friday.

While unveiling a plaque commemorating the occasion, Cllr Peter Clayton said: "I have had an opportunity to look round and there are some wonderful rooms upstairs, and the sports hall is absolutely amazing.

"This is going to be a real community hub for Highbridge."

The development has seen the former Highbridge hotel - which was left in a severe state of disrepair after a fire tore through the building in 2008 - transformed into a community hub complete with café, sports hall, conference and meeting spaces as well as 23 rooms of supported accommodation for young people.

YMCA Dulverton Group's chief executive Martin Hodgson said: "We are at the start of what I believe will be a fantastic journey for this building and its new role within the heart of the community.

"YMCA Highbridge is the first of our community branches, which are the touch points for everybody in the community, no matter what your age or need.

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"We are already seeing the impact this has on local people, from our sports sessions and stay and plays held here over the past few weeks.

"We have had a lot of support and there are many people to thank. In particular, I would like to thank those who, alongside YMCA Dulverton Group, funded the project: Sedgemoor District Council, Homes England and EDF's Accommodation Fund. I would also like to thank YMCA Dulverton Group's trustees, Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge Town Council, John Perkins Construction and our neighbours in the Highbridge community.

"I am excited for the future of YMCA Highbridge and hope that it will become a greatly used asset for the community."

Highbridge MP James Heappey said: "It is fantastic to see the building open. People have been debating furiously what should be here, what it should look like, and some have been really nervous that this really important part of Highbridge might lose part of its appeal.

"But that is not the case as this is a fantastic renovation and is an amazing new facility for the community."