Premier Inn work to start this summer

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

Monday, 21st May 2018, 07:41 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th May 2018, 11:50 am
Plans for a new Premier Inn to be built in Sandgate on the former Playhouse site

It is more than three years since parent company Whitbread first announced plans to redevelop the former playhouse site on Sandgate, with planning permission granted in August 2016.

Richard Aldread, head of construction (UK and Ireland Regions) for Whitbread, said: “I am pleased to confirm that we are working towards a construction start date for our 60-bedroom Premier Inn hotel in July.”

Sanderson Contracts, which has worked with Whitbread on many other sites, has been appointed as principle contractor.

Final details of the build programme are still being planned, with the developers keen to avoid the controversy of its original construction plan when more than 30 residents raised concerns about the impact it would have on the Bridge Street car park and Drivers Lane.

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“As residents will appreciate, Sandgate is not your typical development site,” said Mr Aldread.

“It is a tight site with close neighbours and we have spent a lot of time thinking through the best approach to building the new hotel with Sanderson and officers at Northumberland County Council.

“These detailed discussions are one of the reasons for the slight delay starting work on the site.

“Whitbread is an experienced builder of new Premier Inn hotels. We opened 23 new hotels last year and over the past three years have added more than 13,000 new Premier Inn bedrooms across the country.

“We will bring this considerable experience to Sandgate

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and working with Sanderson, we will do our best to reduce disruption during the construction work.

“I am pleased to say the Bridge Street car park will remain open for vehicles during the build, though we will need to use a few spaces during the construction work after a temporary amendment to the entrance.”

“We are currently agreeing the last few details of the build programme with the council. Once we have done so, we will communicate the start date to residents and stakeholders before starting to clear the site.”

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 £5million 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.