PERMISSION has been granted to redevelop a historic seaside hotel that has remained empty for more than 25 years.

West Dorset District Council's development control committee has given Palmers Brewery the green light to demolish part of the Three Cups Hotel and develop the site at Broad Street, Lyme Regis.

The hotel once housed literary greats such as Jane Austen and JRR Tolkein and will undergo a £5m redevelopment to include a restaurant, letting rooms, apartments, townhouses, shops, a community room and an underground car park.

John Palmer, chairman of Palmers Brewery, said: "This decision is good news for the Three Cups, Lyme Regis and the local economy as a whole.

"We will be investing £5m in restoring a landmark building and helping to revitalise Broad Street."

Mr Palmer said there is an awful lot of work to be carried out, and the company will not be wasting any time in getting started.

He said: "Over the last few years, we have worked closely with townspeople and English Heritage to create a top-quality regeneration scheme that will bring great benefits to the area.

"A considerable amount of detailed work now needs to be done to ensure that the project moves forward smoothly and we will be starting this as soon as possible."

John Dover, chairman of the Save the Three Cups campaign group, said he is pleased the building will re-open as a hotel. 

"We wanted to get it reopened as a hotel so from that point of view, we we have got as much as we would reasonably have ever got," he said.

"From a heritage point of view, we were disappointed the rear of the building will be partly demolished, as we believe that is just as significant as the front of the hotel - but they have included plans for a community room which we welcome.

"Any process is one of compromise. What is important now is that we have a win-win situation and we can move forward."