Plans to turn Sunderland’s former Joplings department store into a £10million hotel have been backed by Echo readers.
As revealed today, Sanguine Hospitality Limited wants to turn three floors of the five-storey building in John Street, into a 122-bed hotel with the InterContinental Hotel Group, which could see the hotel run as a franchise under its Holiday Express brand.
If planning permission is granted, a new hotel could open its doors to guests by summer 2017.
The proposal was welcomed by Ken Dunbar, chief executive of Sunderland Business Improvement District, who said visitors to events such as the Tall Ships Race in 2018, Stadium of Light gigs and Sunderland matches will be among those to benefit.
The former department store has stood empty since it shut in June 2010 and had been subject to a previous plan by the Hilton group.
Reacting on the Echo’s Facebook page, many readers were enthused by the idea.
Phil Marsden wrote: “Sunderland has been desperately short of hotel space for years.
“It’s one of the main reasons big events go to Newcastle and not Sunderland.
“When we do get big events people have to stay in Newcastle or Durham. This will help keep money in the city.”
Mal Robinson added: “You need a certain amount of hotels in the city in order to put on larger events and conferences.
“Without more hotels, business goes elsewhere like Newcastle and so do the events. Plus this also creates jobs, utilises an empty iconic building. Win win for me.”
Julia Venables posted: “I am a Brummie but my mum is a Sunderland girl.
“This shop was a must-do visit every time we were in Sunderland. I haven’t been to Sunderland city centre for years, because it lost its way. So yes, in theory, a brilliant idea.”
Susan Suey said: “It’s about supply and demand.
“If they want to spend that much cash on a hotel they must think the demand is there, the people in the hotel will be spending in Sunderland and that can only be a good thing. Things are starting to change and Sunderland is moving in the right direction.”
Michael Tuckwell wrote: “The city needs a hotel and with Sunniside round the corner it’s great. Only reservation I’d see is it’s opposite the job centre.”
David Hayes posted: “It can only be a good thing – anything that is done to re-generate that side of the city especially.”
Others were less convinced that Sunderland needs another hotel.
George Renton wrote: “So pleased something is going to be done with the building, but why a hotel? Maybe apartments, we are short of housing.”
Paul David Barron asked: “I’m glad something is happening to it, but is there really a demand for all these hotels springing up in Sunderland?”