Premier Inn plan suffers setback

Construction work on a new Premier Inn in Berwick town centre has been delayed until early autumn.

Thursday, 19th July 2018, 10:24 am
Plans for a new Premier Inn to be built in Sandgate on the former Playhouse site

The £5.5million project was due to start last week until it emerged that planning approval was still needed to remove the final corner of the old cinema, which was left over from the demolition of the building in 2010.

Additional excavation and survey work also needs to be undertaken on site before enabling works can begin.

Developers now expect to begin these works in early September, with the

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unexpected delay minimising disruption over the busy summer period.

James Anderson, property communications manager at Whitbread, Premier Inn’s parent company, said: “There will be some activity on the site shortly, though not as much as we planned in our original construction programme.

“We do not wish to cause unnecessary disruption during this time. We will therefore not make any of the planned changes to the Bridge Street Car Park until this investigation work is complete and the additional approval has been secured.

“It is expected that the work will take place during July and August. As a result, we are now expecting to start the enabling works, including the planned changes to the Bridge Street Car Park, in early September.”

The first week-long stage will prepare for the creation of a two-way access to Bridge Street car park, resulting in the loss of five parking spaces and the removal of a flower bed which will be reinstated once the work is finished.

The second stage, lasting 10 weeks, will see groundworks carried out. This stage of work will include piling operations into foundations and substructure works.

Stage three will see a crane installed on site with Drivers Lane closed to traffic for safety reasons. A further seven parking spaces will be lost.

Stage four will see construction of the hotel and is expected to last 10 months.

Plans to redevelop the former playhouse site on Sandgate were first announced in December 2014, with planning permission granted in August 2016.

A four-and-a-half-storey building with a restaurant and reception is planned but without dedicated parking.

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.