High hopes for new skyscraper hotel

A SKYSCRAPER hotel taller than Doncaster Minster could be dominating the town centre skyline if a hotelier's ambitious plans get the go-ahead.

The 300ft high hotel and apartment block next to North Bridge would become an iconic landmark seen from every approach to the town.

It is the brainchild of Graham Rhoden, the owner of The Earl of Doncaster Hotel on Bennetthorpe, who also runs The Warehouse nightclub on the proposed site on Marshgate next to North Bridge, opposite Halfords.

If Doncaster councillors grant planning permission, the plan is for a 30-storey high rise building which would be a combined hotel at the bottom, apartment block at the top and some office space.

Mr Rhoden concedes his plans will be controversial but is hoping to persuade councillors of the value of such a prominent building on a gateway to Doncaster.

At 90 metres it would be almost twice as high as the tallest occupied buildings in Doncaster, the St James Street blocks of flats, and nearly double the height of the Minster spire.

The current Warehouse venue, which used to be a lodging house in the first half of the 20th century, would be demolished.

Mr Rhoden's agent, Graham Raynor, has submitted an outline planning application for a design which "can be seen from all four points of the compass" and "presents an equally impressive appearance when viewed from any direction".

The developers say tall buildings can make a positive statement and act as a catalyst for regeneration and inward investment to promote the economic well-being of the town.

Mr Raynor said: "It is our submission that there are no other locations in Doncaster that are more suitable for tall buildings than Marshgate.

"The site is close to monolithic structures created by the extension to the Frenchgate Centre and Doncaster Prison."

Mr Raynor also admitted that the application would be "very challenging" for Doncaster Council and would promote debate about the future direction of the town.

"We are sure there will be a wide variety of feelings about our proposal and hopefully some of those will be supportive," he said.

"We await with interest the views of members of the public and realise it will provoke considerable debate.

"This application is a serious proposal but is also a way to test the water. It is probably the most challenging application Doncaster Council has faced in recent years."

So far the proposed hotel does not have a name and the finished external appearance has not been set out.

Archie Sinclair, secretary of Doncaster Civic Trust, said they were aware of the application and would be discussing it at their next meeting.

"It wouldn't be appropriate for me to make any comment until I have the views of the membership."

Last month the owners of The Regent Hotel were given temporary permission to divide their Regent Square premises in two because of the reduced number of room bookings due to competition from other hotels.

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