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Decision day for controversial hotel plans

Alan Le Blond outside the former school building, last used as local council offices, which he hopes to turn into a hotel.

Alan Le Blond outside the former school building, last used as local council offices, which he hopes to turn into a hotel.

A PROPOSED hotel development which has drawn widespread objections from neighbours is finally set for a decision today more than a year after it was first mooted.

Alan Le Blond initially applied for permission to transform the former Hetton Day Centre into a 17-bedroom hotel with communal areas.

Hotel Le Spring, as it was dubbed at the time by former racehorse trainer Mr Le Blond, 76, attracted criticism from residents who feared it would turn into homeless hostel full of undesirables.

But Mr Le Blond, who wants to invest about £500,000 in the project, has now revised his plans for the empty Victorian school building to become a seven-unit hotel consisting of one and two bedroomed apartments.

The plans are set to be considered by the Hetton, Houghton and Washington development control sub-committee today.

The application states the building will house a ‘serviced apartment complex’ with a ‘hotel-style booking system’, adding: “Individual apartments are let without fixed contracts and occupants can check out whenever they wish, so that stays can vary in length from a few days to months or even years.”

As the plans were unveiled last summer, widepsread objects flooded in, citing reasons including potential parking problems, noise and unruly behaviour and concerns over the type of clientele the premises may attract.

Hetton Town Council also made a formal objection on traffic grounds, while the Environment Agency, which initially objected on grounds of flood risk, has now changed its position after talks with Mr Le Blond.

No recommendation has yet been made by officers, and a further report will be circulated prior to tonight’s meeting at Sunderland Civic Centre.

Retired breeder and trainer Mr Le Blond, of nearby South Lodge Farm, said at the time he submitted the application: “I think it’s a good old area. I think the character of the place should be retained, and that road in particular.”

Mr Le Blond, whose horse The Jarrovian won the Governor’s Cup in Barbados in 1987 and was named Horse of the Year in Trinidad and Tobago the same year, retired from racing 16 years ago ,aged 60. He has since developed a number of properties.

 

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