Plans have been revealed for a multimillion-pound hotel set to transform Durham Cricket Club.

The County Durham cricket club, based at The Riverside in Chester-le-Street, has released images of its plans for a 150-bed hotel, potentially operated as a Hilton Garden Inn, as it prepares to officially submit proposals to the planning authority.

If approved, the club’s hotel could create more than 120 new jobs as well as creating or sustaining around 200 during the construction phase, which would take up to two years, with club bosses saying it would also complement ambitions for the wider county’s tourism sector.

Plans for a hotel have been mulled at the club for around 15 years, CEO Tim Bostock said, but he added that challenging years at the club as well as the impact of Covid led to it hitting the pause button until the time is right. Now, Mr Bostock said it is now in a comfortable financial position to forge ahead.

He said: “It’s not just a vanity project for the cricket club – it’s actually making a big contribution, for the regeneration and jobs of Chester-le-Street but also for the whole expansion of Durham’s tourism and everything in place for the City of Culture. And it fits in to the long term strategy for Visit Durham because there’s obviously a shortage of hotel rooms.

“We’re making good profits and we’re in a position whereby we can move ahead with confidence. We’ve got the backing of the ECB which we haven’t always had, but they’re very comfortable that the club is back on the right track and that the finances are in a very robust state. And we’ve had an outstanding debt to the council but we’ve paid off well over £1.5m, so that’s reduced dramatically over the two or three years.

The proposed hotel would take around 18 months to two years to build.

“We’re looking to partner with the council and the ECB to get the funding together to get the hotel finally built. Hopefully it will be approved and hopefully that will effectively give us a Hilton Hotel Garden Inn with 150 rooms on the ground.”

The club has so far spent around £500,000 in the last six months, finalising the hotel proposal, ready to make its submission to the local authority’s planning committee in the next two to three weeks.

Mr Bostock said construction costs have jumped since the plans were first being drawn up, with the cost-of-living and supply chain issues impacting the full costings. Together with an additional £2m added to the project in terms of new build regulations and net zero requirements, previous estimates of £22m have now jumped to around £26-27m.

But the club’s analysis of figures from a similar Hilton Garden Inn at Doncaster racecourse suggest the hotel could vastly boost club turnover.

He said: “We’re confident it will added another £5.2m onto our annual turnover which takes it to £13-14m, not far off an 80% increase in turnover. The clear net profit would also be more than £1m, which is game-changing. That means we can pay off all our debt and we can start to really invest in the growth of the club then, on the field and off the field, which is great.”

Business Live Aug 2023.

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