New ballroom on the way

A £2million ballroom and conference centre capable of seating 1,000 people is to be constructed at Copdock, the Evening Star can today reveal.The massive development at the Hotel Elizabeth Copdock signals a bid by hotel owner and property millionaire Richard Cattermole for a bigger slice of the commercial conference and entertainment market.

A £2million ballroom and conference centre capable of seating 1,000 people is to be constructed at Copdock, the Evening Star can today reveal.

The massive development at the Hotel Elizabeth Copdock signals a bid by hotel owner and property millionaire Richard Cattermole for a bigger slice of the commercial conference and entertainment market.

The project will also see the creation of up to 100 extra bedrooms at the hotel in Old London Road, which would more than double its capacity.

Mr Cattermole said: "We've only got 74 bedrooms and we feel with the new ballroom it's going to need 50 to 100 extra. It could be a 170-bedroom hotel then.

"I think the market is definitely there."

Mr Cattermole's Elizabeth Hotels company bought the then County Hotel at Copdock in a deal worth £4.2million in June last year.

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After it was renamed Hotel Elizabeth Copdock, the hotel underwent a three-month refurbishment.

It currently has a 450-seat ballroom, which the company says is already one of the largest in East Anglia, but Mr Cattermole believes Ipswich is missing on the conference market.

Mr Cattermole, 60, said: "Where's the market? You've really got to go to Birmingham (at the moment).

"In East Anglia we're one of the biggest ballrooms at the moment but we will be the biggest.

"This will open up the market."

Construction of the new ballroom is expected to take about nine months and could be ready to hold its first major event by Easter 2006.

Preliminary plans suggest it would be built in a way that it could be divided to host up to three events at a time or used for much larger events which use the whole ballroom.

The project is the biggest single investment in a hotel redevelopment embarked upon by the Mr Cattermole's family and comes on the back of the family's £1.3million redevelopment at the Hotel Hatfield in Lowestoft.

Mr Cattermole is a former apprentice television engineer who entered the property game after leaving the Merchant Navy.

The self-made millionaire now owns 1,390 properties, mainly in Ipswich and Lowestoft, 29 hotels and 70 public houses.

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