Premier Inn building work finally to start

Premier Inn is finally planning to start work on building a 60-bedroom hotel in Berwick town centre this month.

Thursday, 1st November 2018, 07:31 am
Updated Thursday, 1st November 2018, 07:38 am
Plans for a new Premier Inn to be built in Sandgate on the former Playhouse site

Construction of the £5.5million hotel on Sandgate was scheduled to begin in July, then pushed back to September and now November.

It has been delayed for several reasons including the need to undertake some additional excavation and survey work after an old cellar was found.

An old arch, possibily a cellar, was discovered on the site of a new Premier Inn in Berwick.

Extra planning permissions also had to be secured to remove the final corner of the old cinema, which was left over from the demolition of the building.

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Whitbread, the parent company of Premier Inn, now hopes to be in a position to lay the foundations this month.

Richard Aldread, head of construction (UK & Ireland Regions), said: “As many residents will be aware, Sandersons, our principle building contractor, are currently excavating the development site on Sandgate.

“Building in historic Berwick is not easy however, and the team are progressing with care and recording all works and findings in line with the planning approval.

Premier Inn site, Berwick Picture by Jane Coltman

“Though work on the site was delayed over the summer, we are still working within our project programme and are currently planning to start the foundations of the new hotel building in November.

“Once the foundations are in place, the building will really start to take shape and we are targeting for the footprint of hotel to be complete by the beginning of next year all being well.”

It is approaching four years since Whitbread first announced plans to redevelop the site, with planning permission granted in August 2016. Part of the delay has been due to the compact nature of the site, with concerns about the impact of the build on the Bridge Street car park and Drivers Lane.

Construction is expected to take 12 months.

The Bridge Street car park will remain open for vehicles during the build, though a few spaces will be lost during construction work and a temporary amendment to the entrance.

The plans for a four-and-a-half-storey building with a restaurant and reception but no dedicated parking were first announced in December 2014. Public consultation events were held in June 2016 before the plans were submitted.

Premier Inn says the development could create up to 25 new year-round jobs and would support the local economy by attracting additional year-round visitors to the town.

When planning permission was granted, it estimated the proposed development could provide accommodation for 21,500 overnight stays in Berwick each year, with potential to attract substantial visitor spending of approximately £940,000 per annum.

The former playhouse closed in 2005 and the building was demolished in 2010.

At that time planning permission was granted for 20 apartments but the financial crisis meant the development never began.

Large weeds were subsequently left to grow inside the perimeter fencing leading to numerous complaints.