‘Bringing beds and business to Bedlington’ is the aim of two businessmen who are planning to open a hotel in the town, creating 45 jobs in the process.
At a Northumberland County Council hearing on Wednesday (May 29), a premises licence was granted for a hotel, bar and restaurant at the Laird’s House, the building which was occupied by the Top Club from 1993 but has sat derelict since the start of the decade.
Applicants Gareth Fernandes and Colin Thompson said that building work at the site, on Front Street West, was 90 per cent complete and that they are hoping to be ready ‘some time in the summer’.
Mr Fernandes explained that the aim was to create a restaurant-driven, 12-room hotel that also offers a service which isn’t available in the town – late-night drinking through a table service-led operation, something for the older crowd who don’t want to go a club.
Councillors were also told that while the licence allowed the sale of alcohol until 2am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (midnight the rest of the week), nobody would be allowed into the hotel after midnight, with drinks only available to guests.
Mr Fernandes added that they were looking at running a 24-hour operation, employing 45 members of staff, so the times applied for were to enable them to capitalise on the building fully and make it viable.
Mr Thompson said: “We want to bring a high-quality, premium service to Bedlington. The whole intention is not to pack people in and sell them alcohol, we definitely want it to be led by food.”
The application had sparked two objections from neighbours, with a number of their concerns relating to some of the other licensable activities applied for – plays, films, live and recorded music.
But Mr Thompson, who is from Bedlington originally, said: “This is a new venture for us so we are trying to get a bit of flexibility. The main focus is definitely going to be food.”
Mr Fernandes added: “It’s a hotel so we don’t want to be keeping our guests up.”
Councillors on the sub-committee asked a range of questions, including about drinkers in the forecourt area – another concern raised by one of the objectors, and were satisfied that the measures and conditions in the licence were sufficient to allay any concerns.
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service