EASTHAMPSTEAD Park Conference Centre’s new hotel owners are here “for the long term” after leasing the beloved site from the council.

Active Hospitality moved into the mansion house on Tuesday, October 8 and promised to open up the site, which is set to become a hotel, to the community.

Director of Active Hospitality Bruce Cave told the News: “We’re going to open it to the public and it will be a proper hotel.

“We are hopefully going to bring the place to life – this is our mothership.

“Four companies were interested but Active Hospitality was the only one that ticked the boxes.

“Easthampstead Park will be a family enterprise for the long term.”

Mr Cave was previously a key figurehead at notorious hotel chains Malmaison and De Vere but last week the News learned he had a role in the dissolving and liquidation of more than 120 companies.

When questioned about this, Mr Cave said: “The previous companies were dormant, therefore instead of paying £500 in statutory accounting each year, we dissolved them.

“It’s good corporate practice – the council understood why I had dissolved and liquidated (the other companies) so it was never a question.”

Active Hospitality currently own two other hotels in Woking and Buckinghamshire and they plan to extend their portfolio.

But according to Companies House, Active Hospitality had only come into existence in November 2016 and as of last week had not submitted a tax return, causing residents to wonder about the suitability of the company.

Mr Cave, who left De Vere in 2015, said: “Towards the middle of 2016 we started to hone in on Gorse Hill (in Woking) Easthampstead and at that point we put together Active Hospitality.

“They (the tax returns) were late because we were doing a lot of development (at the hotels in Woking and Buckingham”.

When the council announced its intention to sell EPCC, residents were worried about the possibility of developers building houses on the site, but Active Hospitality are not allowed to build residential properties on the grounds.

Mr Cave said: “I think the council did very well – they secured a good operator, they protected its use to be a hotel and a conference centre and they stopped there being any residential use on it.

“That’s exactly what the voter asked them to do and they did it.

“And they got a lot more money out of us all – they created a really good tension and got us all bidding above where we wanted to.”

Last month the News reported that the council had missed out on £176,000 in potential revenue after a delay in the sale of the site.

But Mr Cave believes it was worth the wait: “They had to make absolutely sure that whoever they chose could deliver the scheme they’d outlined.

“They probably did better by doing this slowly and carefully.”

The four companies vying to become the new operators of the site all had to submit a pre-planning application to outline their proposals before the applicant was chosen.

Active Hospitality won the contract and have agreed a 999-year lease with the council after proposing to spend £10m on developing the site.

The conference centre will be transformed into a hotel with the addition of 76 new bedrooms, a £20-a-month gym, a new reception and cafe area, a refurbished restaurant and bar and a dry health and beauty area.

Mr Cave also told the News that he hopes Easthampstead Park will host several festivals in conjunction with the council over the coming years, including literary, music, motor and food celebrations.

Bracknell Forest Council councillor Iain McCracken, executive member for culture, resources and public protection, said: “Easthampstead Park Conference Centre has long been a jewel in our cultural crown and one we have worked hard to safeguard and preserve for our community.

“I’d also like to extend a hand of friendship to Active Hospitality as we welcome them to the borough.

“They are a highly professional organisation with a great track record in successfully managing and refurbishing venues.

“The plans they have already in place for EPCC will bring a much improved and more accessible venue for the public to enjoy.”