‘Apart-hotel’ plans approved for old school

Alan le Blond in front of the building.
Alan le Blond in front of the building.
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PLANS for an “apart-hotel” in an old school building have been given the go-ahead by planners – despite fears from neighbours that it could turn into a hostel.

The development of the old Hetton Day Centre, in Bog Row, which was built as a girls’ school in 1894, was initially dubbed “Hotel Le Spring” by developer Alan Le Blond.

He had submitted an application last summer for a £500,000 17-bedroomed hotel. These plans were recently changed to accommodate seven ground-floor units, made up of individually accessed one and two-bed apartments with private facilities.

Now, more than a year on, Sunderland City Council’s Hetton, Houghton and Washington development control sub-committee has approved the development, subject to conditions.

However, the plans attracted widespread criticism from the start, with representations submitted by 52 individuals, including one in favour of the development.

Potential parking problems, noise and unruly behaviour and concerns over the type of clientele the premises may attract, formed part of people’s objections.

Speaking in front of the committee, Andrew Turnbull, who lives in The Crescent, opposite the site, said: “I have two young children. What sort of clientele would stay at this place?

“I’m worried about the safety of my family and my property, as well as the levels of traffic around the building from people coming and going.”

The committee chairman, Coun George Thompson, said the class of use – C1 – does not permit the property to be used as a hostel.

“If it was found not being used for that, that can be reported to planning,” he said.

“There would need to be a change to a different class of use. If it’s found that it’s being misused, we do have course for recourse.”