Outline consent is in place, but the applicant must think again. Credit: planning documents

Refusal for Acklam Hall hotel bid

Hopes to add a hotel and spa next to the grade one-listed building have been rejected by Middlesbrough Council.

After Middlesbrough College vacated the hall in 2008, the council sold the asset to a private developer with the ability to take on its restoration in a mixed-use development. According to reports, the local authority brought in around £900,000 through the sale in 2014.

As planning advisor ELG sets out in planning documentation: along with restoration and landscaping works, 56 homes would be added to the grounds, with health facilities and parking to the rear of the hall.

In a hybrid application, outline permission was sought for a hotel to the east of the hall, Middlesbrough’s only grade one-listed building.

Much of the masterplan has been delivered: the hall’s restoration was completed using funds generated from sales, and reopened to the public in February 2016: it now includes the Tomahawk restaurant, function rooms and business centre/office accommodation.

The 56 homes are completed and occupied, and a small hospital was operated in 2018 by private operator Ramsay Health Care.

However, as set out by ELG for applicant R&H Properties, conferencing and events space without hotel rooms is proving a difficult sell: over an 11-month span looking from the date of its planning statement in 2023, there were just 21 forward bookings in.

ELG said: “The extension to the Hall remains fundamental to supporting the long term viability of the uses within the Hall itself. Without a viable long term use within the Hall there remains a danger that it will once again become vacant and the achievements to date are undone.”

Architect NORR’s proposed scheme was for a u-shaped two-storey block, with a courtyard in the middle and visual separation from the eastern part of the hall.

The planner pointed to a lack of quality hotel options in the town, with just one four-star operator alongside the standard budget operators. Supporting evidence from London Rock Partners, in addition, made the case for a spa at the site.

Although an outline consent is in place as part of the hybrid consent, reserved matters approval was required. However, 36 objections were submitted, and officers described the proposals as harmful to the grade one-listed setting, with Historic England also unimpressed.

Highways issues were also raised, and the plans were refused on both those grounds, along with on the nutrient neutrality point.

The proposals can be viewed on Middlesbrough’s planning portal with the reference 21/0304/RES.

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