By Andrew Brown
Plans have been revealed for a brand new Wetherspoon hotel in Southport town centre.
The hotel would be created in the historic four-storey Pavilion Buildings on the corner of Lord Street and Coronation Walk, above the existing Wetherspoon Sir Henry Segrave pub.
It would see the creation of 28 new en-suite bedrooms.
It follows a council study which revealed “a need for a significantly increased supply of hotel bed spaces in Southport”.
The new investment follows the Government commitment of £38.5million in Town Deal funding for Southport earlier this year, which is predicted to trigger a further £400million of private investment, and has led to “renewed investor confidence in the town”.
Pavilion Buildings is currently in such poor repair that the roof is leaking, with water dripping into the pub below, and a backlog of repairs estimated to cost £480,000.
The upper floors have previously been partly occupied by Sefton Council’s Parking Services team and NSL private contract staff, which will now move into Cambridge Arcade. The remainder of the building is vacant.
The local authority is looking to dispose of its freehold interest in the building.
In his report to Cabinet, Sefton Council Executive Director of Corporate Resources and Customer Services Stephan Van Arendsen said: “Overall, the accommodation is dated and in need of repair. In recent years there have been issues with the roof leaking, leading to water ingress into the public house on the ground floor. The premises need a rewire. The current backlog of maintenance works informed by the latest Asset Management condition survey stands at £480,000.
“Conversion of the upper floors to the Pavilion Buildings to provide hotel accommodation ties in with and supports the wider regeneration aims of £50m the successful Town Deal bid. The Council’s Tourism and Regeneration teams recently commissioned a ‘Hotel and Visitor Accommodation Study’, which identified a need for a greater range of visitor accommodation types, and a need for a significantly increased supply of hotel bed spaces, particularly in Southport.
“The use of the upper floors of Pavilion Buildings for hotel bed spaces, and / or to increase the trading area and number of covers would support this end of Lord Street, would help to consolidate a successful business and contribute to wider vitality and viability of the town centre, particularly the leisure and night time economies.
“Bringing into use the upper floors of premises for complementary and productive uses is a key priority within the Local Plan and is one of the main objectives of the Southport Townscape Heritage Project.
“The council’s successful application for Town Deal funding predicted that over £400m of private sector investment would be triggered by the Town Deal and Council project. This commitment by the tenant underlines the renewed investor confidence in the town.
“As part of the disposal, officers will include an overage clause in the sale contracts and ask Wetherspoons to provide a commitment to utilise, where possible local firms and supply chain and to support local employment, apprenticeships, and other training opportunities during the construction works phase.”
Sefton was first approached by Wetherspoon in 2018 and in January 2019 it received a formal offer to acquire the freehold interest in Pavilion Buildings. Following the easing of hospitality venue restrictions in June 2021 Wetherspoon submitted a revised offer.
It has not been revealed how much the building is being sold for, but with it being above half a million pounds, it will require Cabinet approval.
Money raised through the sale will go towards the council’s Growth and Strategic Investment Programme and its Framework for Change Programme.
The disposal will save the Council approximately £48,000 per annum of revenue costs covering items such as repairs and general maintenance, utility costs, cleaning and refuse, compliance testing and business rates.
Pavilion Buildings is among Sefton Council assets which were judged to be available for disposal in the Asset Maximisation: Phase 1 Disposals Programme presented to Cabinet on 9th January 2020.
This project is wide ranging in scope involving a comprehensive review of all Council’s assets to ensure that the Council aligns its asset base to the delivery of its objectives.