Work starts soon on new restaurant development

An artist's impression of Elm House.
An artist's impression of Elm House.

The latest phase of redevelopment in Morpeth town centre is set to get under way.

The former RAFA Club building on Dacre Street, known as Elm House, is to be converted into a new fine dining restaurant, with the work taking around six months.

While there will be a temporary loss of parking at the Back Riggs car park for the works to be carried out, the developer has agreed to open up the Benfield site which it also owns, for use as a temporary car park with up to 15 spaces – an increase on the number lost at Back Riggs.

The Benfield site will open ahead of work starting on Elm House on November 5.

Coun Richard Wearmouth, Northumberland County Council Cabinet member for economic development, said: “It is excellent news that another town centre building is getting a new lease of life.

“Throughout the Morpeth Masterplan events people have told us they want buildings to be occupied and brought into good use and we look forward to another business playing its part in the regeneration of the town.

“The fact there’ll be a small increase in available parking spaces is another bonus.”

The developer, Zonic Investments, recently completed the conversion of the former John Smailes building on Bridge Street and has appointed Datim Building Contractors of Cramlington to carry out the 22-week buildf.

David Nicholson from the company said: “We believe that we have identified a unique market opportunity to introduce a very special fine dining experience to the people of Morpeth.

“Elm House is an attractive stone built property that borders the traditional properties surrounding Dacre Street and the new developments based around the Sanderson Arcade; this link between the old and the new has been the inspiration for the new restaurant which has been designed to fuse the two design principle by our architects, Acanthus Darbyshire of Gosforth.”

The new restaurant will be called Brasserie 1862, the original date highlighted in the stonework on Elm House.

Mr Nicholson added: “Unfortunately town centre developments by their very nature involves inconveniencing the public during the building work but, in the end, the successful outcome of a sustainable new development will be beneficial for Morpeth. “