NEW concerns were highlighted yesterday over the number of hotels planned for a city centre.
As the list of hotel schemes in Newcastle with planning permission or at the application stage grows, a conservation society has voiced fears over the consequences if projects fail to get off the ground.
The Northumberland and Newcastle Society said that a particular concern was the future of the listed 1932 former Co-op department store in Newgate Street, where planning permission was given in 2010 for conversion of the art deco-style building into a hotel but work has yet to start.
In August, copper faces from the main exterior clock were stolen, and the society says that the site has also suffered from a small fire and vandalism.
The Journal revealed on Monday another two applications to convert office blocks to 160-bed hotels – at Bridge Court on the Quayside and Baron House near the Central Station.
This has sparked objections from existing operators who fear oversupply after more than 1,000 extra rooms being added to the Newcastle and Gateshead stock, with six hotels opening in the last 18 months. John Matthews, vice chairman of the Tyneside committee of the Northumberland and Newcastle Society, said that there was “great concern” about the listed Co-op building.
He said: “It is disastrous for a beautiful store such as this to be allowed to fall into disrepair, and I have no doubt that there will be associated detrimental effects on the both the fabric and the remaining original internal features. The loss of the clock faces is truly dreadful.”
A city council spokeswoman said: “We are in close contact with the owners of the site who are responsible for the building and have agreed measures to make the building watertight, safe from vandalism and safeguard its listed features. Discussions are ongoing regarding the proposed redevelopment.”
Mr Matthews, a business development manger, said: “Being involved in the construction industry, I have been amazed at the number of plans which have been put forward over the past few years for hotels in the city and wondered when saturation point would be reached.
“I think the city council should not accept any new proposals until the existing room occupancy rates improve along with the general and the economic situation.
“With the number of current developments in the pipeline, it will only exacerbate the situation.”