Plans for 'luxury boutique' 55-bedroom hotel and spa beside Acklam Hall

-Credit: (Image: Evening Gazette)
-Credit: (Image: Evening Gazette)


Plans to build a 55-bedroom hotel and spa at Acklam Hall look set to be knocked back amid concerns over its design.

R&H Properties wants to build the hotel on the eastern side of the hall, off Hall Drive in Acklam. Rooms would be built across two floors above ground while a spa would be located in the basement.

Acklam Hall is Middlesbrough's only Grade I listed building. Formerly a school and college campus, the 400-year-old hall was reopened to the public after its refurbishment in 2016 as a wedding venue, restaurant and office space.

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Plans were initially submitted in 2021 but were reworked following discussions with the planning department of the council. A planning statement on behalf of the developers said the latest design was "site appropriate and harmonious" and presented "a unique opportunity to develop a bespoke, contemporary architectural solution for a luxury boutique hotel at Acklam Hall."

They said the development would enhance the appeal of the venue while promoting increased tourism in Middlesbrough. However a report to the committee said the changes did not go far enough to remove concerns raised by Historic England, the Conservation Officer or the planning authority.

The proposed use of a hotel at the location has already been agreed in principle, however the detail of the plans have been recommended for refusal. Middlesbrough Council's planning and development committee will meet to make a decision on Thursday, June 6.

Objections to the latest scheme have been raised by 36 residents, with several suggesting it is still not in keeping with the historic hall or the character of the area. They were also received from Historic England, the Victorian Society, Natural England and a council conservation officer.

'Too modern and bland'

Countryside charity CPRE North East and Yorkshire said the style of the proposed extension is "too modern and bland". Acklam ward councillor Sheila Dean said she was not against the principle of a hotel being built but believes the plans are "totally out of character with a Grade 1 listed building."

The Victorian Society criticised previous development at the site which includes some housing built around the hall. "The location of the residential areas to the east and west of the Hall is extremely insensitive, and their design is very poor," they said.

"Whilst the renovation of the Hall itself and its new use as a venue for conferences and weddings have been positive developments, they have been achieved at a high cost to the building’s setting." The proposal also includes a car park to the south of the hotel and the retention of the existing car park to the south of Acklam Hall, which highways officers deemed "excessive".

The report to the committee said the proposed development would result in harm to the significance of Acklam Hall and the conservation area and would "dominate views of the hall by virtue of its design and appearance." Conservation officers said the proposed extension was "of poor architectural quality – bland and lacking local distinctiveness".

A spokesperson for the applicant said: "After a great deal of investment in the building to restore it to its former glory, it is very disappointing that the council do not seem willing to work with our design team to deliver a scheme that is acceptable to them."

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