Developers are bidding to get a 1920s-themed bar and restaurant opened on Newcastle’s Diamond Strip, after seeing plans for a boutique hotel hampered by Covid.
Designs for the multi-million pound Metropolitan Hotel in Collingwood Street were given the go-ahead by city council bosses in 2019, promising guests a “VIP experience”.
It was hoped that the venue could have been ready to welcome its first customers by last summer, but the impact of the pandemic has meant that the transformation of the disused Metropolitan House has been forced back to 2023.
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In the meantime, developers High Street Hospitality want Newcastle City Council to let them open a ground floor bar and restaurant that formed part of the original £2.5m plans.
The firm has pledged “high quality cuisine”, fine wines, and cocktails at the Boardwalk venue, saying it would even hire staff with acting experience to help deliver an authentic 1920s vibe.
But the proposal has met opposition from civic centre officials and one neighbour, who claimed that another bar attracting noisy drinkers is “the last thing” the Diamond Strip needs.
A council licensing hearing had been scheduled for Tuesday morning to allow councillors to decide the Boardwalk’s fate, but has been put on hold until August 10.
Phill Brumwell, managing director of High Street Leisure, said in submissions to the council that the company was still committed to the hotel development and was tied into a 120-year lease for the building.
He said: “It is our ambition, following the delays caused by Covid, to deliver a premium hotel, bar and restaurant that can breathe new life into a part of the city that has been adversely impacted by the pandemic.
“We believe the Metropolitan Hotel and new restaurant and bar concept can be a catalyst to attract further much needed investment to Collingwood Street and are progressing our vision for the development to bring maximum benefit to the area.
“This includes working with the city council to amend the licence we secured in 2019, which also allow the premises to operate as a bar as well as a restaurant.
“We are also engaging with the licensing office and environmental health to ensure that the venue operates to the highest standards of health, safety and hygiene for the public, local residents, businesses and staff.”
Before the original Metropolitan Hotel plans were approved in 2019, neighbours living in the Stamp Exchange building complained that the site could add to problems with “insufferable” noise, “appalling” litter, and rat infestations.
And another of the building’s residents has objected again to the idea of the Boardwalk opening this time, saying: "As it is, customers queuing and exiting Revolution and Tokyo Bar are at times a nuisance, particularly on weekends and after midnight.
"Drunken individuals often congregate noisily on the street immediately outside before they leave the area and street fights have been known to occur as well. The last thing the area needs is another establishment that will serve alcohol for a substantial part of the day and night."
Council licensing chief Jonathan Bryce had also opposed the scheme, saying it would mark a “significant change” from the hotel concept and add another bar to a street already dominated by drinking establishments.
However, the added that the council is in “pro-active” talks with the developer in order to refine the plans.
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