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OVERRUN: Fears of hotels swamping Newcastle city centre

OVERRUN: Fears of hotels swamping Newcastle city centre

Recent months have seen a string of multi-million pound building schemes given the green light, Image: Apto Architects

Council bosses insist that there is still a demand for more hotels in Newcastle, despite a wave of newly-approved developments sparking concerns that the city centre will become overrun with them.

Recent months have seen a string of multi-million pound building schemes given the green light, including the transformation of the city centre’s old fire station in Pilgrim Street into a five-star hotel.

hotels

CGI of plans to turn Newcastle's old fire station into a hotel, Image: Avison Young

That £11.5m scheme won Newcastle City Council’s backing on the same day in June that the Malhotra Group was given permission for a £30m hotel, bar, restaurant, and nightclub complex wrapping around Grey Street, Mosley Street and Cloth Market.

hotels

The Malhotra Group's plans for a new hotel and leisure complex in Newcastle city centre, Image: SPACE Architect

Then in July, a proposed Moxy Hotel on the Newcastle Helix site was approved despite complaints that it will “overpower” listed buildings on neighbouring Westgate Road.

hotels

Plans for the new Moxy Hotel on the Newcastle Helix site, Image: Apto Architects

This week, Byker councillor Stephen Sheraton raised concerns that the city centre could soon be overwhelmed by hotels.

The Labour councillor told the council’s overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday: “There are limited sites and limited development opportunities of old buildings, I know there is another one scheduled for Collingwood Street. Are we being, as a council and a planning department, aware of the limited number of sites or are we just going to let the market decide, which is a bit of a concern?

“There will come a point where there is just not enough space left and there are too many hotels.”

Coun Ged Bell, the authority’s cabinet member for development, responded that Newcastle was “still attracting quality”.

He added: “Believe it or not, there is still a demand for hotel spaces. I think the quality of hotel we are offering shows that developers are willing to invest in Newcastle city centre, which is only a good thing for the city.”

Michelle Percy, the council’s director of place, added that hotel occupancy over recent weeks had been 90 to 95% as visitors flocked to Newcastle for the Great North Run, the This is Tomorrow festival, and graduation ceremonies.

She said: “From our point of view we are still showing that there is a demand when the city is busy.

“As that demand grows and the city grows and reopening occurs, I think that demand will still be there.

“But those hotels coming forward at the moment are coming from hotel operators who are suggesting that the viability works through their own business cases.”

 

Words: Daniel Holland, Local Democracy Reporter


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