Licence granted for new hotel, bar and restaurant in Morpeth
Plans to convert a prominent building in Morpeth into a boutique hotel with bar and restaurant have overcome the first hurdle.
A premises licence has been granted for Oswald House, on Bridge Street overlooking Telford Bridge, which was the Louis Johnson auction house up until 2015 but currently sits vacant.
The proposal is to provide a new restaurant and bar area on the ground floor and letting rooms on the first and second floors.
Speaking at a Northumberland County Council licensing hearing on Wednesday (May 29), Phil Steel, who acts as area manager for a group which also has hotels in Warkworth and on Holy Island, explained that the idea is for a ’12-bedroom hotel, quite boutique, a little bit high-end’.
“There would be a bar and restaurant downstairs, mainly to serve the 12 rooms, we’re not looking to have a lively bar atmosphere,” he said, adding that it would act as ‘a relaxed coffee shop’ during the day.
“We’re not sure yet of the type of food we will serve, but it will be aimed at pulling residents down from the rooms. We are not looking to tap into Morpeth’s night-time drinking economy.”
The application for a licence, which allows alcohol to be served from 11am to midnight Sunday to Thursday and 11am to 1am Friday and Saturday, had sparked two objections from neighbours living to the rear of the building.
However, the councillors were reassured by the fact that there would be no customer access at the back nor any smoking area.
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Mr Steel also pointed out that Shambles, two doors down, had a beer garden at the back and when he spoke to one of the objectors to allay their fears, they said they had never heard anything from this premises.
The panel did though decide to add an additional condition to prevent glass from being emptied into bins between 8pm and 9am to avoid nuisance to residents.
A planning application was also recently lodged for this proposal, seeking the change of use of the building, internal changes to the ground-floor layout to accommodate the bar, kitchen and toilet area, and a small extension to the rear with alterations to the escape-stair arrangement.
A heritage statement submitted with the plans says: ‘There are very few design changes and the main frontage which boasts some unique features, will remain untouched.’
It concludes: ‘We believe the works to the property will improve the character of both the building and the conservation area, as the works will be carried out to a high standard and will improve the disjointed appearance at the rear.
‘The internal refurbishment will also be carried out to a high standard and will ensure the building remains occupied for the foreseeable future.’
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service