Work to start on new Alnwick Premier Inn after Northumberland County Council approves planning permission, creating 30 jobs

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A new Premier Inn in Alnwick has been approved, bringing 30 new jobs to a site once earmarked for housing development.

The application for a three-storey hotel, featuring 83 bedrooms plus a bar/restaurant on the ground floor, was unanimously approved at a meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council.

The development, on the Willowburn Trading Estate, would feature 81 parking spaces plus six electric vehicle charging points, which will be available for public use during the day.

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It had been recommended for approval by planning officers, who said that while this was not a traditional, industrial use, the scheme is ‘a more flexible approach’ to job creation on what is a vacant, run-down plot.

A Premier Inn logoA Premier Inn logo
A Premier Inn logo

Objector James McLean, who runs a business elsewhere on the estate, said: “I’m not against a Premier Inn and restaurant coming to Alnwick as long as it’s in the right place and does not affect small business owners.”

He raised a number of concerns about the impact of the extra traffic, suggesting there could be an extra 200 vehicle movements a day. “The Willowburn Estate already has a traffic-flow problem onto the A1068,” he added.

However, the council’s highways officers had concluded the bid was acceptable and planner Tony Lowe, agreeing that the estate road ‘isn’t the best’, said that it isn’t the fault of this developer and the site in another use would also generate plenty of traffic, including industrial vehicles.

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Moving approval, Coun Wendy Pattison said: “I think it’s a great thing for Alnwick. I’m sympathetic to the gentleman who spoke; nobody wants anyone to lose their livelihood, but it’s needed in Alnwick and I think it will be a good thing.”

The site of the proposed Premier Inn in Alnwick. Picture by Ben O’ConnellThe site of the proposed Premier Inn in Alnwick. Picture by Ben O’Connell
The site of the proposed Premier Inn in Alnwick. Picture by Ben O’Connell

Coun Trevor Thorne added: “I do think this is an appropriate use, it’s something that Alnwick needs and it’s going to create jobs.”

The scheme is being led by the Northumberland Estates, acting on behalf of Northern Commercial Properties Ltd (NCP), whose majority shareholder is Lord James Percy, brother of the Duke of Northumberland.

NCP, alongside the Harris & Sheldon Group – the landlord of Hardy and Greys owner Pure Fishing, previously wanted to build housing on a larger plot of the trading estate, off South Road.

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However, two applications – one for 125 homes and another for 100 – were rejected by Northumberland County Council, as the site is designated as employment land in the Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan.

An appeal against the first refusal was then dismissed by a planning inspector in October 2018, following a public inquiry that summer.

The hotel chain was due to open its 60-bedroom Berwick hotel at the beginning of February 2020, but has had to postpone those plans after its principle building contractor entered insolvency.

Ailsa Riva, Premier Inn new openings project manager, has written to local stakeholders and neighbours to inform them of the delay.

The company hopes to open the Berwick hotel by the end of the month