A HOTEL operator has been confirmed as the new owner of Easthampstead Park Conference Centre (EPCC).

Active Hospitality will take over the the much-loved venue, following the sale from Bracknell Forest Council.

The council previously said it could no longer afford to run the historic facility and that selling it off was the best way of ensuring that the iconic landmark's future is protected.

Plans are already in place to make changes at EPCC, with additional bedrooms and a complete refurbishment of the existing rooms.

Councillor Iain McCracken, executive member for culture, resources and public protection, said: “We are delighted the future of this important venue and its ancient woodland has been secured.

"We can now begin to look forward to the exciting changes ahead, which will see EPCC become even more accessible for local residents and businesses, as well as those from further afield.”

More than 4,000 people signed a petition to protect the site, over fears it could be sold to a developer for homes.

As well as the introduction of new rooms, a health and fitness centre will be created in the Whitfield building and a dry health and beauty spa developed in the basement of the main building.

The News revealed last week that the council was set to lose £176,000 following delays to the sale of the land.

Rick Aspland-Robinson, a partner at Active Hospitality said: “We are thrilled to have been given this opportunity to upgrade and transform this beautiful building in the heart of Berkshire.

"We will create a bespoke hotel, wedding venue and conference centre enhancing its current features and creating new and improved areas for the local community to come and enjoy.

“We appreciate there has been some speculation and worry from local residents regarding housing in the area, but we confirm that our business is in hotel, wedding, conferencing and health and fitness and we look forward to working with current EPCC staff and providing a significant number of additional job opportunities as the transformation gets underway.”