Plans have been announced to transform a derelict country hall owned by businessman Sir John Hall into Newcastle’s first five-star hotel.
Bosses at Cameron Hall Developments hope to turn Woolsington Hall, on the outskirts of Newcastle, into a luxury hotel complete with golf course, restaurant, spa and cookery school.
The impressive Grade II* listed hall has been left derelict for decades, falling onto the English Heritage “At Risk Register” in 2000.
But it is hoped the latest proposals for the grounds would see the 17th Century hall, purchased by Cameron Hall Developments in 1994, brought back to life and finally taken off the register for good.
The plans for the 34-bedroom boutique hotel and leisure complex, which will be submitted to Newcastle City Council this summer, will be funded through the construction of 70 detached executive homes on land to the south of the historic parkland.
Cameron Hall Developments’ chief executive Paul Mackings said: “Newcastle is one of the few major cities in the UK which lacks a five-star hotel which this development will provide.
“The building’s historic assets will be sensitively refurbished to provide a superb backdrop for this 34-bedroom ‘boutique’ hotel, with each of the suites uniquely different.
“In addition, as part of the hotel, the development will include the construction of a restaurant within the former stables, a spa complex within the former farm buildings, a walled garden marquee for events, weddings and receptions and a cookery school within the walled garden cottage.
“The leisure complex will be completed by the construction of a sensitively detailed 18-hole golf course.”
Plans were unveiled to residents in the area yesterday at a consultation exhibition in Kingston Park.
George Pattison, chair of Woolsington Parish Council, said he thought the proposals looked promising.
“It looks fantastic, it is absolutely unique in what we are seeing,” he said. “It has been left to rot for years and years on that site so it’s fantastic to see those plans.
“But then there’s the other side to finance it – we have the 70 executive houses. I spoke to a few members of the parish, they are quite happy about it but the consultation is ongoing. I am sure there will be objections.
“Our main concern is there’s a lot of houses already being built in the area in Callerton and Newbiggin Hall – what about schools? For every house you have to have somewhere for children to be educated.”
He added: “The houses are surrounded by high trees so in that respect the developers are being quite clever because they are not a blot on the landscape. But for the normal resident in Woolsington their concerns are traffic controls.”
This is not the first time plans have been put forward for the site, with Sir John Hall having hoped to turn it into a sporting academy for Newcastle United Football Club when he first bought the hall, but it was never implemented as NUFC had by then set up a facility in Benton.
Last February, the hall was placed on the market but, six months later, with no offers, Cameron Hall Developments took it off and began preparing these ambitious plans.
Cameron Hall Developments’ consultants estimate that the project will, on completion, provide an additional £8.9m into the local and regional economy, while also creating 187 new full-time jobs, 22 of which will be in construction.
The hotel and spa itself will employ around 100 staff when it opens and will enter into agreements with Newcastle College and Northumbria University to provide training and apprenticeship opportunities in association with the hotel.
Cameron Hall Developments said the 70 proposed new homes were the absolute minimum number of properties required to “enable” the restoration of the historic hall, outbuildings, gardens and parkland and secure its long-term future.
Mr Mackings said: “It is very important to differentiate this enabling development from other larger housing development plans proposed around nearby Ponteland.
“This housing is the minimum development required to rescue the heritage asset that is the listed Woolsington Hall and turn it into Newcastle’s premier luxury destination hotel that will generate significant economic impact, jobs and visitors.”