Controversial Durham Tees airport hotel sparks row

Hotel News - 14/08/2007

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An application to build a new hotel near Durham Tees Valley Airport has encountered opposition. The airport itself is objecting to the proposed construction project on the basis that the hotel threatens the airport's plans for future investments.

The site of the proposed 80-bed hotel is close to the airport's base in Darlington and the Darlington Council so far seems to be taking the side of the hotel, saying that they see no reason not to grant permission to Northcare Developments to proceed with construction.

The airport would like to build its own 100-bed hotel on the same site. The airport, operated by Peel Holdings, says that if Northcare goes ahead with their hotel, demand is not strong enough to justify their own project. A third hotel is also planned for the site.

But Darlington Council says its job is not to consider the business aspect of the development but rather focus on planning issues.

"We are annoyed and very disappointed,' said Hugh Laing, the airport's managing director. '"We have already spent £30.5m and are about to embark on a further £56m and we need to develop an airport community in which to develop a profitable business. But if, bit by bit, these things are chipped away and we lose hotels and other things, then that undermines the long-term development of the airport and our investment.'

While spokespeople at Northcare claim demand is strong enough to support three hotels in the area, Laing and the rest of officials at the airport disagree. 'The planning view seems to be that the market must decide and everyone can dive in and build hotels, but the experience of other airports would suggest that the need is not there," Laing said.

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