BAR owners have pitched into the debate over whether there is a glut of existing and planned hotels in a city centre.
On Monday The Journal revealed that another two hotel proposals have been tabled for Newcastle city centre.
More than 1,000 extra rooms have been added in the last 18 months with six new hotels opening in Newcastle and on Gateshead riverside.
Planning applications to convert both the Bridge Court office complex on Newcastle’s Quayside and Baron House office block facing the Central Station into 160-bed hotels brought a warning from Ken Ellington, general manger of the Copthorne Hotel.
He cautioned that there were too many hotel rooms – a situation which was leading to an “ongoing” rates war, loss of jobs in existing hotels and the closure of outlets such as the Grey Street Hotel in the city.
But yesterday bar owners said that partygoers to Tyneside – who make up a sizeable chunk of their customers – complained that there were not enough two and three-star budget hotel rooms.
“They tell us they have problems in finding this sort of accommodation,” said Damian Conway, chairman of the Newcastle city centre Pubwatch scheme.
“They include stag, hen and birthday parties and, in these days of second marriages, they cover a wide age range.
“We also have large numbers of Norwegians who come over for big Premiership matches and huge numbers from elsewhere in the country who travel here for the games.”
Mr Conway said that it was estimated that 65% of city centre bar and club users on a Saturday night were from outside the North East.
He said: “We have also been told by travel agents we deal with that Newcastle has now moved ahead of Bournemouth as the second most popular party destination after Brighton.”
The Copthorne has objected to the plans for the adjacent former BT Bridge Court offices.
The Thistle County Hotel in Neville Street has also objected to the proposals to convert the second to seventh floors of Baron House into bedrooms.
But Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination management and marketing agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative said the number of new hotels opening in NewcastleGateshead was a vote of confidence in the destination from the private sector.
There are now 6,500 hotel rooms in NewcastleGateshead.