Traders outline Premier Inn construction concerns

Traders have expanded on their reasons for objecting to Premier Inn's construction plans for a new hotel in Berwick.

Wednesday, 18th January 2017, 1:40 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th January 2017, 1:42 pm
Plans for a new Premier Inn to be built in Sandgate on the former Playhouse site

More than 30 letters of concern about Premier Inn’s construction management plan and the impact it will have on the Bridge Street car park and Drivers Lane have been submitted to Northumberland County Council.

Whitbread, the parent company of Premier Inn, is seeking to discharge conditions attached to the planning permission for its 60-bedroom hotel on the site of the former Playhouse cinema on Sandgate.

Bridge Street car park, Berwick

However, businesses and residents have warned of congestion chaos and danger to pedestrians and motorists if the plan for a 30-week closure of Drivers Lane and two-way access to the Bridge Street car park is approved.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Liz Murray, on behalf of the Bridge Street Traders Association (BSTA), in a letter to the Advertiser said: “The current proposals are based on incomplete and imperfect information, so 30 weeks is likely to be the minimum.

“Whitbread/Premier Inn will not consider alternatives such as bridge scaffolding over Drivers Lane. Instead they aim to widen the car park entrance and reconfigure the car park so that it is two-way throughout, with the entrance and exit both on Bridge Street. Their computer-generated models do not show correct movement of vehicles and they incorrectly show Bridge Street as one-way.

“In their proposed reconfiguration, it is impossible for cars to drive in/out and through the car park, and manoeuvre in and out of spaces. There has been no attempt to recognise the type and volume of traffic typical of the street, this car park or the safety of people on foot.

Bridge Street car park, Berwick

“Delivery vehicles would not be able to access the YHA (Dewar’s Lane Granary). Emergency vehicles would not be able to access some Quay Walls properties. Bin lorries would struggle to access bin collection points in the carpark, including a large number of residential and commercial properties on Quay Walls, Dewar’s Lane, Sandgate and Bridge Street.

“Two residential properties would not be able to access their own carparking spaces and garages on their own land. One of these requires disabled access by car. The car park could not be used to full capacity as physically getting into spaces becomes impossible under the proposed reconfiguration.

“Bridge Street is a vibrant commercial and residential street, which has seen a great deal of private investment in the individual shops, as well as the superb Dewar’s Lane Granary - an award-winning transformation by the Preservation Trust, who also upgraded the carpark recently.

She added: “As a community, this part of town welcomes, encourages and celebrates change, variety, investment and growth.

“Far from being negative, the BSTA has put forward constructive and viable suggestions to Whitbread and Northumberland County Council (NCC) to help manage the build with respect to local conditions.

“Unfortunately, difficulty parking and driving through Berwick impacts quickly and catastrophically on small businesses. And, sadly, at the moment NCC seems committed to making parking and traffic flow more challenging throughout the town. Bridge Street will soon be the latest casualty.”

However, a number of residents have called on the objectors to see the bigger picture that investment in the town will bring.

David Morton Mugen, on Facebook, said: “Got to look at the big picture and just bite the bullet. What’s the alternative?”

Mark Stanbra added: “It will put Berwick on the map for weekends away especially with our rail link! It can only be a good thing. Short term hassle v long term gain!”

Pam Walker commented: “All for it. We should welcome national chains with open arms. Our town desperately needs their investment.”