The lead designer for a project that will transform a vacant Morpeth coaching inn has revealed that a planning application is set to be submitted soon.
The Queen’s Head, which dates back to 1656, has been boarded up for a number of months and this time last year, owner the Ladhar Group announced proposals for a major investment in the property.
If the scheme gets the green light, it would install a quality cocktail bar and an artisan high-end deli selling world teas and coffees. Above these facilities, a boutique hotel would be established.
Award-winning designer Simon Mcilwraith, owner of Collective Design, has been drawing up the detailed plans on behalf of the company.
He said: “We’re nearly there with it all. It has taken some time to progress because we’re introducing three concepts and we want to make sure we get them right.
“We were reluctant to open the bar first and have a big gap between the opening of the bar and the hotel part of the scheme as it may have given out the wrong impression to Morpeth residents. Ideally, we want to open everything at the same time.
“We’re pretty happy with where we are at the moment and we should be in a position to submit a planning application within the next two months.
“The aim of this scheme is to provide a high-quality tourist destination that will help bring more people to Morpeth, which will boost its economy.
“We’re also working to ensure the planning application is sympathetic to issues that are very important to local residents, such as car parking and noise.”
The bar offering would be the company’s Pleased To Meet You brand, which is proving very popular in Newcastle city centre.
In recent weeks, the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade has been calling on the Ladhar Group to put forward an application ‘sooner rather than later’.
One of its members Ken Stait, who runs Stait Photography, said: “It’s very important for Morpeth to have the Queen’s Head as a functioning hotel.
“Everyone who is a stakeholder in the town is concerned about the lack of accommodation for tourists at the moment.
“Hopefully, it won’t be long until the plans are submitted because this really exciting scheme would benefit town centre businesses.
“With the economy turning around and more exposure for Northumberland in the national media, this is an excellent opportunity for the Ladhar Group because I believe the development that is being proposed for the Queen’s Head would do fantastically well.”