Place

Newark and Sherwood: Robin Hood Hotel Redevelopment

The project

The site of the former Robin Hood Hotel is a key gateway to the town of Newark. However, the building had been derelict since the hotel’s closure in 1999. Whilst a developer purchased the site, the development had been halted for many years due to the significant planning constraints affecting its viability.

Newark is a historic market town, home to several nationally acclaimed tourist attractions including the National Civil War Centre and Newark Air Museum. However, a study in 2018 demonstrated lack of suitable town centre accommodation – “68% of visitors stay with friends or relatives, outside of town”. The study also identified that visitors staying overnight in the town spend, on average, £112.43. The council recognised that increasing the offer of accommodation with a trusted national brand, at an affordable price, would increase dwell time and spending in the town.

Having listened to local public opinion, the council worked with the developer to establish a joint venture with a “wrapper” funding structure to unlock the site’s potential and progress its development.  A joint plan was developed to redesign the scheme, which included retaining the “cottage” façade to satisfy planning requirements. Notably, the joint venture reduced the risk to the council and enabled it to agree a pre-let with Travelodge and find an institutional investor who would purchase the freehold of the demise.

In addition, the council re-prioritised its approved capital programme to release £3.3 million, representing 50% of the estimated development cost. Finally, to ensure that the developer did not exit prematurely, The council negotiated that on completion the joint venture company would continue in existence until the hotel and commercial units were fully let.

The benefits

This exciting and transformational regeneration project has breathed new life into the town with a hotel and commercial space supporting tourism, employment, and the economy whilst providing a catalyst for further investment for the town centre.  The regeneration has delivered a branded 66-room hotel – a need identified in the council’s Growth Strategy and Local Plan – and three commercial units totalling 9,000 square feet to be leased to businesses that complement the accommodation. The hotel and commercial units provided new employment for local labour during development of the site. Now that the site has been completed, businesses occupying the three commercial units will provide at least 70 new jobs.

The success of this scheme has led the council to acquire another large, prominent town centre site previously occupied by a major retailer as part of Newark’s Towns Fund priorities. With similar planning constraints, this site will be redeveloped to provide around 40 apartments and around 10,000 square feet of retail space.

The project has regenerated and brought back to prominence a significant asset for Newark, with nil capital costs to the taxpayer. It has also brought financial benefits for the council through rental income from the development and increased business rates growth.

This redevelopment contributes to the council’s objective of turning Newark into a vibrant, thriving place that people enjoy visiting, enhancing the area beyond recognition. It has been the source of much positive feedback in the local community.