THE new £4.6m YMCA Highbridge and Burnham-on-Sea facility was officially opened at a special launch event.

The building, which replaces the former Highbridge Hotel, took more than a year to build and includes a community café, sports hall, conference and meeting space as well as 23 rooms of supported accommodation.

Sedgemoor District Council chairman, Cllr Peter Clayton, and YMCA Dulverton Group chief executive, Martin Hodgson unveiled plaque to officially open the facility on Friday (January 30).

More than 100 people including representatives from EDF Energy, Homes England, John Perkins Construction and Highbridge MP James Heappey attended the event and praised the new facility.

Martin Hodgson, chief executive of YMCA Dulverton Group, said: “This is an exciting time for us as the YMCA, as 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 touchpoints for everybody in the community, no matter what your age or need. We are already seeing the impact this has on local people, from our sports sessions and stay and plays which have been held here over the last few weeks.

“We have had a lot of support throughout this development and so 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 of course 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.”

YMCA Highbridge was funded by YMCA Dulverton Group, Sedgemoor District Council, Homes England and EDF’s Hinkley Point C Community Fund.

It replaces the former Highbridge Hotel building which was left in a state of disrepair after being devastated by two fires in six years.

Cllr Peter Clayton, chairman of Sedgemoor District Council, 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 YMCA said a programme of events will expand over the coming weeks and a timetable of sessions is already underway which includes a stay and play for parents with babies, as well as sports sessions for children aged 8-15.

Allison Griffin, chief executive of Sedgemoor District Council said: “On behalf of Sedgemoor District Council, I’m really proud we could have been a part of this and I think we owe a lot to YMCA Dulverton Group and our funders.

“This is the start of a really bright future for Highbridge and its residents.”

James Heappey MP for Highbridge said it is ‘fantastic’ to see the new facility open and he thinks it will be an ‘amazing’ new facility for the community.

He said: “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.”