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Bradford
Thursday, May 30, 2024

Hotel groups eye up decaying Crown pub as survey assesses economic viability

Hotel groups have expressed an interest in developing the Crown pub in Middlesbrough which has stood rotting since 2015.

The building on the corner of Borough Road and Linthorpe Road is among a multi-million pound package of council assets due to be transferred to the Middlesbrough Development Corporation (MDC) from Middlesbrough Council. Meanwhile the MDC is awaiting the results of a survey to assess the “economic viability” of keeping the former pub, rather than razing it to the ground.

Tees Valley Mayor and chairman of the MDC board Ben Houchen said there is an interest from “big hotel groups” however legal agreements regarding the transfer of assets first need to be made. The building will be included in plans for the overhaul of the Gresham area, expected to be submitted this summer.

“It’s an eyesore and it’s on such a strategic and important site,” said Lord Houchen. They recognise the nostalgia associated with the building, he said, and will consider the possibility of retaining the facade and style. The plans for Gresham are likely to include a multi-storey car park at the site which would provide a “ready-made” facility if the Crown became a hotel, he added.

It was previously discussed by the MDC board that the Crown was in such a state of disrepair that a survey itself may be too expensive to complete. However this was later deemed not to be the case and a survey was procured.

The MDC is still awaiting the outcome of the report. Lord Houchen said they are aiming for a June date for the application to be submitted. This will follow the confirmation of the MDC board at the June annual general meeting of the Tees Valley Combined Authority – the parent organisation of the MDC.

As reported, a review into the Crown criticised processes surrounding Middlesbrough Council’s £750,000 purchase of the building in February 2023 crumbling eyesore and questioned whether it represented value for money. The sum paid was significantly higher than a £460,000 valuation obtained by the council and an internal audit review, ordered by chief executive Clive Heaphy found no evidence of a full business case or negotiation on price.

MDC was established in 2023 as the planning authority for certain parts of Middlesbrough. The body aims to supercharge the development and regeneration of the town centre and Gresham area, along with the historic Station Quarter around the train station and Middlehaven.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has given consent for ownership of the former Crown to be transferred from Middlesbrough Council to the MDC, along with other public assets worth an estimated £14.7m. Lord Houchen said the decision means they can press ahead with regeneration in parts of Middlesbrough, which he said had been “neglected for far too long”.

The Middlesbrough Labour Group previously criticised Mr Gove’s decision given the governance and transparency issues raised in the report into Teesworks, relating to the TVCA, and described the move as a “smash and grab” of public assets. “The governance at the MDC needs to be robust and transparent to match the weight of its responsibility,” said their statement.

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