Budget hotels could help regenerate city centre

PUBLISHED: 10:10 03 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:48 06 May 2010

BUDGET hotels could help regenerate St Albans and, according to the district council s planning portfolio holder, they could provide an answer to the gloom caused by the closure of Woolworths and the difficulties faced by other retailers. Cllr Chris Braz

BUDGET hotels could help regenerate St Albans and, according to the district council's planning portfolio holder, they could provide an answer to the gloom caused by the closure of Woolworths and the difficulties faced by other retailers.

Cllr Chris Brazier said: "We have a growing number of attractions going for us - not least Butterfly World -- which would make St Albans a convenient weekend spot for visitors.

"What with the Abbey, the lake, our theatres and the new woodland forest and its proximity to London and the motorways, we are ideally placed to boost our tourist economy. Hotel operators are keen to come here because they can see there is money to be made."

He said that was why councillors were keen to encourage new hotels into the district to accommodate weekend trippers.

It is still hoped that a swathe of empty buildings at the northern end of St Peter's Street may be snapped up as a possible site for a budget hotel.

Last August the property investment manager Michael Pryer, who acts for the landlords, said it was deliberate policy not to renew leases as they expired to leave the space vacant for a budget hotel.

At the time Cllr Melvyn Teare, portfolio holder for culture and heritage, pointed out that there was a severe shortage of low-cost hotels in St Albans. He added: "Even with the budget hotel earmarked for the former Hertfordshire House site we could still support another one.

Although the properties are still unlet, it is not clear whether the credit crunch may have deterred potential hotel operators from moving in.

* Premises near the McDonald's site, formerly used as a Pizza Hut restaurant and which have been empty for some time, are to be turned into a curry house.

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