AN eyesore former department store which has lain empty for 20 years may be converted into an 80-bedroom hotel.
The former John Blundell and Howards store in Clayton Street West in Newcastle is flanked by listed buildings and is opposite the Grade I-listed St Mary’s Cathedral.
Developers Trafalgar Leisure Ltd has submitted a planning application to the city council which would see extensions to the third and fourth floors and the addition of a new fifth floor.
But the possibility of using the ground floor as a late bar has been dropped after concerns from local residents.
Also involved in the project is Newcastle-based Dakota House of Design which provides interior design and project management services.
A Trafalgar spokesman said last night: “Trafalgar are pleased that the opportunity to develop this building is being considered by the planning authority. The proposal is to develop an 80-bedroom hotel with retail/ restaurant uses to the ground floor.
“The number of bedrooms has proved critical to gaining interest from national operators and the design team led by Dakota House of Design have worked hard with the planning authority to present a scheme that is as sympathetic as possible to the surrounding buildings whilst maintaining the number of bedrooms required to make the scheme commercially feasible.
“We also originally had interest from a local operator in the ground floor unit as a late bar but after listening to concerns that local councillors had received from residents in the vicinity we decided not to proceed with that interest.
“It is envisaged that the ground floor and basement will attract retail or high-quality restaurant use from local or national operators.”
The same area of Clayton Street includes two former hotels, the Crown and Clarendon, which have been converted to residential use.
Seven years ago, the then owners of the former store planned to restore the building and convert it into a leisure outlet. The move revived plans first put forward five years earlier but the building has remained boarded up.
Another city department store, the listed 1930s Co-op building in Newgate Street, which closed in December last year, is also the subject of conversion plans into a complex of shops, cafes, and a 231-bedroom Travelodge hotel.
It is envisaged that the ground floor and basement will attract retail or restaurant use