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Planning chiefs give green light to demolition of sister dailies’ old home

Planning chiefs have approved the demolition of two sister dailies’ former offices to make way for a new £24m hotel development.

Newcastle City Council has approved plans to demolish Thomson House, the old home of Reach plc titles The Chronicle, The Journal and the Sunday Sun.

Earlier this year, Reach unveiled proposals to replace Thomson House’s print hall and office building with two hotels – a 198-bedroom Moxy hotel, including 10 deluxe rooms, and a 96-studio Residence Inn aparthotel.

Both hotels will be run by the Marriott chain, while a new pub will also be built to replace the former Bar Fleet Street.

Reach plc's artist's impression of how the scheme could look

Reach plc’s artist’s impression of how the scheme could look

According to The Chronicle, the council’s planning committee was told that the 1960s building was once known as the most advanced newspaper office and printworks in the country, but had become an “eyesore” after the titles moved to new home at Eldon Square in 2018.

Cllr Ged Bell, the authority’s cabinet member for employment and investment, said: “Many big names in the world of media started their careers there and doubtless the building will hold fond memories for generations of staff who worked in its newsrooms, print works and advertising offices. But times have changed, and the building has lain empty since owners Reach plc moved to new offices two years ago.

“While a prominent building, Thomson House does jar somewhat with the surrounding historic architecture. Its demolition will make way for a more attractive mixed-use development featuring a hotel, aparthotel and bar.

“This £24m of private sector investment will be a welcome boost to the current regeneration of the Bigg Market, creating 150 construction jobs and an additional 40 full-time jobs for local people when the hotel opens its doors in about two years from now.

“It’s a significant investment that will not only boost the city’s tourism and hotel sector with new training opportunities but also bring in guests who will spend money in the many shops, restaurants and bars in the area, and I welcome it.”

Planning committee chair Hazel Stephenson said that the new hotels will bring life back to the site and turn it into “something wonderful”, though she did call for the removal of “garish” signs seen in concept drawings of the new development.

Cllr Stephen Lambert added: “Quite clearly this is a welcome development. The existing site is an eyesore, it is well past its sell-by date.”

Neighbouring bar Cosy Joes had lodged an objection against the plans, amid fears that future hotel guests will complain about noise from the venue.

But council officials said they were “comfortable” that there will be sufficient sound proofing, and are always less concerned about nuisance for hotel guests than permanent residents.