HEREFORDSHIRE hotel owner Alfie Best has issued an update on his plans for his hotel after threats of enforcement action.

The businessman, who is also responsible for the Sapey Golf Club near Bromyard and 109 residential park home sites across Britain, including Saltmarshe Castle near Bromyard, bought the Hop Pole Hotel in Bromyard in 2019, saying he would plough £1.2 million into bringing it back to life.

And plans were submitted to Herefordshire Council in 2021 to turn the dilapidated town centre hotel, which dominates the town's market square and has been empty for a number of years, into a five-star venue.


Permission was finally granted with conditions in February 2023 for proposed internal alterations, conversion of attic space, rooflights, the demolition of a rear single-storey extension and replacement larger extension, reinstatement of a historic window, ramped disabled access, and the introduction of dining area into newly discovered basement area.

But the project has been beset with problems, some of which Mr Best says stem from the building being listed, and remains almost untouched.

The building, which Mr Best agrees is deteriorating, is now under threat of enforcement action, with Bromyard Town Council writing to Herefordshire Council.

Minutes from the December meeting of Bromyard's planning and economic development committee said the council had resolved to invite the historic buildings officer to a meeting in Bromyard to discuss the council's concerns about the "failing" hotel and the town's old magistrates court buildings.

In February the committee said Herefordshire Council's principal building conservation officer had acknowledged the town council's concerns and agreed to forward the letter to a more senior colleague in the Built Heritage Team department at Herefordshire Council.

But Mr Best has now said he will be putting the hotel up for auction, placing the blame for the delays on planning and listed buildings red tape.

Speaking to the Hereford Times, the Undercover Big Boss star and 'Gypsy billionaire' said he had bought the hotel to save the town square, but has since faced social media abuse.

"It's taken two years and they have littered it with conditions," he said. "It's crazy. I get abuse instead of support."

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Mr Best said he has "invested, invested, invested" since coming to the Bromyard area, but that there is "only so much abuse you can take".

When he saw that enforcement action was being threatened, he said, he decided to sell the hotel "there and then".

"I have worked tirelessly and spent tens of thousands on the Hop Pole," Mr Best said, going on to explain that he had been planning to spend far more than the building would be worth in refurbishing it.

"I started the works and then English Heritage came in and told me we had to stop."

Mr Best said he had intended to refurbish the building to provide a boutique hotel in the town.

"I was very, very passionate about what I was doing," he said.

"Some people have been very supportive, but I can't take the abuse any more."