North East care and leisure firm Gainford Group has abandoned plans to create its fourth hotel in Newcastle, after a surge in demand for privately rented accommodation in the city.
The Chester-le-Street based group, which runs hotels such as the County and Vermont as well as a handful of care homes, had originally sought planning permission to convert the Grade-II listed Grainger House into a 70-bedroom hotel.
The building, set in the Grainger Town conservation area, had been set to become the firm’s fourth hotel when the project got the go ahead in 2016 to turn the five-storey property – built by Richard Grainger in 1837 – into a hotel aimed at the mid-market range.
Now, however, it has emerged that Gainford Group is to turn the building into 19 apartments in a move to meet rising demand for rental properties in the city centre.
The firm has submitted planning documents showing how it plans to convert former offices on the first, second, third and fourth floors of the building into a series of one and two bedroom flats. Extensions onto the third and fourth floors to create more space are also proposed.
A design statement for the plans said: “Grainger House has benefited from the Grainger Town Project but although this initiative has been largely successful the office space on the upper floors of the building has been found difficult to let at competitive rates in this location because of a surplus of office space in the central area of the town.
“There is however a big demand currently for small residential flats in the central and Quayside areas of Newcastle.
“The redevelopment of the office space at Grainger House for residential use in this location is therefore considered to be a suitable alternative use.”