Hilton Hotel bid takes a step closer

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SUNDERLAND’S new Hilton Hotel has taken a step closer.

The Echo revealed in May that the world-famous chain had earmarked a site next to the Stadium of Light.

Public consultation has been carried out in the last few weeks, and the plans have now been formally submitted to planning bosses, and public notices have been posted.

Sunderland City Council is acquiring the land – between the Sunderland Aquatic Centre and SAFC’s Black Cat House office block – from the Homes and Communities Agency, and the project will be handled by a newly formed company, Sunderland FC Developments.

The firm is affiliated to SAFC, and its personnel will be involved in the scheme, but is a separate venture, and the development will not be funded from club coffers.

If the application gets the green light from planning bosses, work on site would start early next year, with an anticipated opening date of summer 2015.

City council leader Coun Paul Watson said: “This is a very exciting development for Sunderland and a statement of confidence in our city and its future, by arguably the most famous hotel chain in the world.

“Having such a quality hotel on Stadium Park will have a tangible economic impact on our city, and particularly its city centre.”

The planning application is for a four-storey 161-bedroom hotel with foyer, bar area, lounge, restaurant, private garden courtyard, business centre and meeting rooms.

Construction is expected to create up to 150 jobs, while the hotel will provide 100 posts itself, along with more in its supply chain and once completed.

City bosses have identified a lack of hotel accommodation as a major challenge, with visitors attracted to Wearside by events such as the airshow and the Stadium of Light concerts forced to stay outside the city.

Recent months have seen steps taken to tackle the problem.

A new Travelodge opened in High Street West in November, while planning permission has also been granted for another development at the bottom of Chester Road, which will transform the site between Sunderland University’s Chester Road campus and St Michael’s Way.