Hotel plan for shipyard site

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PLANS to build a hotel on a former shipyard have been given the go ahead – for the second time.

Developer Dulay Ltd has been granted planning permission to build the four-storey 86-bedroom complex on the site of the former Austin & Pickersgill office in Alexandra Avenue, Low Southwick.

Councillors originally granted permission for a hotel on the site five years ago and plans were afoot to open it as a Holiday Inn Express, but no work has ever taken place.

Principal planning officer Mike Mattock said the original planning application had now expired and the latest application would allow developers to keep the prospects of the project open.

Rosalind Copeland, a Southwick councillor and chairwoman of the North Sunderland planning committee, said there was little hope of the hotel development coming to fruition any time soon.

She said: “We really need more hotels in this city and I would love to see one in Southwick.

“I think had we got the World Cup we would see things happening but. in this climate. it doesn’t look likely at the moment.

“We can just hope and pray that people will press on and make some progress.”

She added: “I would love to have a hotel along near the Aquatic Centre to promote Southwick. It would do the area a lot of good.”

The approval of the application is the latest in a series of planning permissions granted for hotels across the city.

Creating more hotel accommodation is seen as vital to bringing in visitors, boosting Sunderland’s growing tourism industry and stopping Wearside losing out on overnight stays to nearby Newcastle and Gateshead.

Several hotel developers have been given the green light to build in the city in the past two years but so far none of the projects have got off the ground.

The Austin & Pickersgill development would be built on 0.63 hectares of cleared land which once housed office accommodation and training workshops belonging to the firm.

The site, off Wessington Way, has been in a derelict state for a number of years.

Planners said work on the hotel had been stalled due to the economic downturn.

The new planning permission means Dulay now has five years to start construction work.