Premier Inns have pulled out of the £60m New Brighton redevelopment, the company confirmed last night.
The budget hotel operator had been lined up by developers Neptune for a key part of the scheme which has already seen the Floral Pavilion Theatre redeveloped to widespread acclaim.
Neptune has outline planning approval for the second phase of their ambitious redevelopment of the Wirral seaside town, won after a public inquiry threw out the original scheme after some fierce opposition from locals.
But the company last night said they had another, rival hotel chain, lined up to take the place of Premier Inns.
The detailed plans for the scheme in which supermarket Morrisons will be an anchor are expected to be submitted to council planners soon, with revised hotel plans.
It will also include a cinema, health centre, bars and restaurants. Construction will take 18 months.
A spokesperson for Whitbread said: “We have revised our expansion plans in view of the economic downturn and, as a result, we have decided to withdraw our plans for bringing Premier Inn to New Brighton at this time.
“We are continuing to grow our business across the UK but, due to market conditions, are being more selective about which sites we bring forward in the short-term.
“We have a good existing presence on the Wirral and ongoing investment in the area, with work under way on a 101-bedroom Premier Inn at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, in addition to our recent opening in Chester city centre.
“New Brighton and the Birkenhead area is a location for us where we are saying not never, just not now.”
Neptune Developments development director Rob Mason, said: “It is a shame Premier Inn were unable to commit to their original plans for a 60-bed budget hotel in New Brighton, but we are now in detailed discussions with a leading rival budget hotel chain operator for a 66-bed budget hotel in the same location.”