Plans for Premier Inn revealed
Plans for a Premier Inn on the site of the former Playhouse Cinema in Berwick went on public display on Tuesday.
There was an excellent turnout and the plans were generally well received, although there remain some reservations about parking.
Whitbread, Premier Inn’s parent company, is proposing a 60-bedroom hotel and restaurant on the disused site on Sandgate.
However, it will have no dedicated parking as the company feels there is sufficient in the vicinity, most notably the Bridge Street and Quayside car parks.
It also points out that most of its customers arrive in the evening when the car parks are generally empty. It also anticipates a proportion of guests arriving by train.
If approved, the £5million development will create up to 25 new year-round jobs and support the local economy by attracting additional visitors to the town throughout the year.
Matt Aubrey, acquisitions manager for Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants, who is leading the redevelopment of the site, said: “Berwick is a town that we have been interested in for a long time. Our nearest hotel is more than 45 miles away in Musselburgh.
“A new Premier Inn in Berwick will provide an excellent new location for our customers as well as supporting the local area and creating new year-round jobs.”
The plans will regenerate the former Playhouse Cinema site which has been vacant for more than five years.
A five-storey building with a restaurant and reception at ground floor level is proposed.
Over the past 12 months, its architect team has liaised extensively with planning and conservation officers at Northumberland County Council to design a building that is in keeping with the local area.
Following the planning phase, it will prepare a construction management plan to address the practical issues of constructing the building to minimise the potential for disruption.
Matt continued: “We have taken the time to ensure our designs are appropriate for the site. We have also given a lot of thought to the practicalities of building the hotel and how we will minimise any disturbances for our neighbours during the build period.”
Due to the constraints of the site, they would need to restrict access to Drivers Lane during the construction process. This would be a temporary measure that is unavoidable for safety reasons.
Access to the Bridge Street car park would remain from Bridge Street during the building works.
Two construction options are under consideration. Option A is to look to secure an agreement to lease a commercial space on Sandgate to house the site office, canteen and welfare facilities. A section of car park at the rear would also be required for site storage. The existing parking bays opposite the site on Sandgate would also be suspended during construction.
Option B is to locate the site office, canteen and welfare facilities in stacked cabins to the rear of the site. A larger area of the car park would be needed for this.
The information from the exhibition is also available online at www.premierinnberwick.co.uk
The development team will now review all of the feedback from the exhibition before submitting a planning application to Northumberland County Council.
Should the hotel be granted planning consent, Premier Inn is expected to start clearing the site later this year and is targeting an opening date of mid-2017.
Premier Inn is keen to attract local staff to work at its new hotels and restaurants. The recruitment process for the Berwick hotel is expected to start approximately three months prior to opening and vacancies will be advertised via the local Jobcentre Plus. Whitbread targets a significant proportion of new site jobs to go to people who are not in education, employment or training.