it’s fantastic how The Star is flagging up Doncaster’s historical buildings in the Save Our Heritage campaign and credit is due to Doncaster Mayor Peter Davies for his support and co-operation in trying to regulate matters where old buildings are concerned.
I attended a Doncaster Council Watch public meeting where the former Doncaster High School for Girls was the main agenda item. Chair Joffre Sprakes, and speaker Ray Nortrop both stated that it would be a long time before any developer could be found to convert the former school into a hotel, if at all.
Ray Nortrop said that representatives from SAVE Britain’s Heritage had been to look at the building while conducting a study into the prospects of St James’ Baths being suitable for listed status. They concluded that perhaps the frontage only could be retained. Mr Nortrop had been inside the school in 2006 and found it in a dreadful state.
Mr Sprakes said Doncaster had sufficient hotels and Council Watch research concluded there was no shortage of beds even during racing periods. More new hotels would disturb the viability of those we already have. Doncaster’s evening economy has shrunk considerably in recent years. The town centre is no longer the attraction it used to be. Doncaster is almost a ghost town Sunday through to Thursday evenings, borne out by the closure of some pubs on Sundays.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, some pubs on Hallgate close as early at 9.30pm. Fridays are no longer the highlight of the week and the success of Saturday evenings is mainly confined to Silver Street and Lazarus Court, drinking havens for young people.
Doncaster council is supposed to consider the local economy but I do not understand how it can justify Waterdale being the location for a new hotel. There is no evidence to show that the local economy is likely to improve in the next few years.
Doncaster is the only large town I know that does not have a hotel in the immediate vicinity of the railway station.
A different use to that of a hotel needs to be considered otherwise the school could eventually start to fall down.
Tim Knowles, Bentley