Ipswich's Russell Road to house new Travelodge near Portman Road after plans given go-ahead by Ipswich Borough Council
Plans for a 100-bedroom Travelodge hotel close to Ipswich Town Football Club have been given the green light.
Ipswich Borough Council's planning committee gave unanimous approval on Wednesday morning for proposals by the Burney Group to develop car park land between Suffolk County Council's Endeavour House headquarters and the former Better Gym in Russell Road.
The land is currently a car park for up to 84 vehicles, but underutilised since the closure of the gym and former Staples/Office Outlet retail store.
The five-storey hotel will include 28 family rooms, 64 double rooms and eight accessible rooms, and feature car parking underneath the building itself in addition to some car park spaces which will remain.
In their application, the developers said: "The Travelodge will be ideally located in order to provide rooms for travelling football fans, as well as any other visitors to the area."
Ipswich Borough Council's planning department said there was an acknowledged need for hotel accommodation in the town centre, and would help boost the tourism industry in Suffolk.
Its close link to the football stadium and rail station, as well as the town centre and Waterfront were all highlighted as positive factors.
Planning and development committee member Bryony Rudkin said: "I think it's a good idea. Having good hotels close to stations is always welcome - I hope it will be an asset to the football ground when people want to come from afar.
"Something positive there will be a good thing."
Work could begin on site by the end of the year, with the facility planned to open within a year of construction starting.
The approval comes as developers have also lodged plans for a small shop to be built on the end of the retail units close to Princes Street, while the borough council's planning officers have granted approval for the empty retail and gym units to have a revamp of the fronts with new glazed entrances.
Those empty units are set to be divided into five separate stores.
Better Gym closed early last year with operating losses cited as the reason, while Office Outlet closed its doors in 2019.
It has not yet been disclosed if any new tenants are lined up.