Major plans for 'high-quality' hotel and restaurant in former school building opposite Alnwick Castle

Major plans have been unveiled for a new ‘high-quality’ hotel and restaurant across the road from Alnwick Castle.

By Ben O'Connell
Wednesday, 6th May 2020, 6:00 am

The 47-room proposal, which includes the former buildings on Bailiffgate used by the Duchess’s Community High School, represents a £7.9million investment and would create around 45 to 50 jobs.

The application, which has recently been submitted to the county council by the Northumberland Estates, is for the conversion of numbers 2-8 Bailiffgate to form 14 hotel suites/apartments, as well as a restaurant and bar.

Permission is also sought for the demolition of some buildings and the construction of a new four-storey block to the rear, with a terraced frontage along The Peth, to provide another 33 rooms, which would be connected to the existing buildings by a glazed link.

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Numbers 2 to 8 Bailiffgate, where a new hotel is proposed.

The bid includes the refurbishment of the former school gym building to create a series of new fitness studios.

A planning statement explains that the scheme has been developed ‘following commercial interest being expressed’ by the current operator of The Cookie Jar, an 11-room hotel and bistro located just a couple of doors down on Bailiffgate.

The proposed hotel and gym would need a total of 45 to 50 staff – likely a mix of 20 full-time and 30 part-time roles (with a minimum of 10 hours per week for part-time staff).

The existing entrance from The Peth will be widened to provide one-way vehicular access to the site, which will have 51 parking spaces within the former walled garden, with vehicles exiting via Walkergate; this access ‘could also serve any new residential development on land south of Walkergate’.

Looking towards the site where the new-build element is proposed.

The planning statement adds that the buildings in question ‘require significant investment and refurbishment to bring them back into a positive and beneficial use’ and this ‘will help ensure that the buildings do not fall into a further state of disrepair, function positively and do not cause harm to the historic character of the area’.

In relation to the sensitive setting, a design and access statement claims that ‘this proposal should be a building which sits comfortably within the context of the very significant historical setting’.

‘At the same time, the architecture should not be a replication or a pastiche representation of the Georgian architecture of Bailiffgate. Nor should the building be in competition with the imposing structures of Alnwick Castle.’

Meanwhile, a heritage statement notes that the project would ‘deliver a design that will restore the original features of the listed buildings fronting Bailiffgate, including stonework, leadwork, slate roofing and timber-sash windows, which are important characteristic features of the buildings and the wider conservation area’.

It adds: ‘The proposal will mark the latest phase in the history of numbers 2-8 Bailiffgate and will allow for the reuse of these buildings to fulfil the 21st-century requirements of Alnwick and contribute to the activity and vitality of the area.’

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