COMMUNITY leaders gathered to celebrate the ceremonial topping out of a new multi-million pound hotel.

The final outside piece has been laid for the 60-bed Travelodge, located opposite the Blackwater Retail Park in Maldon.

Retail park developer Aquila led on the project, which is expected to be complete in April with the hotel welcoming its first customers in May.

As well as on-site parking, there will be a ground floor Greggs café.

The topping out ceremony was attended by Maldon Council leader Adrian Fluker, councillor Bob Boyce, Maldon Town Council’s deputy mayor Mark Heard and PDR Construction managing director Paul Dransfield.

Aquila chairman Tony Chambers said: “I’m immensely proud Aquila has made an enormous contribution to the regeneration of The Causeway.

“The hotel will meet a known demand for hotel accommodation in Maldon for both tourists and business.

“Aquila are looking to undertake further projects in Maldon in the near future and we look forward to working with members and officers to achieve further successes to add to the 250 jobs which have been created by these two projects.”

Aquila has now turned its attention to the redevelopment of Oval Park in Langford.

Council chairman Bob Boyce said the ceremony marked another big milestone in the retail park scheme.

He said: “This Travelodge, a first for the Maldon District, is the final part of this development and I am delighted to see this almost ready to welcome guests.

“It will firmly put our district on the map and provide more choice for families, and those visiting the district for business who would usually stay in a Travelodge further afield.

“I hope this hotel will very much complement the existing excellent accommodation which is already on offer in and around Maldon.”