News that a four star hotel will be built in Huddersfield – mainly funded by a £9 million loan from Kirklees Council – has sparked a big debate.
Kirklees Council has backed a plan for a 149-bed Park Inn hotel next to the John Smith’s Stadium.
The £13m hotel will be on what is now the Direct Golf driving range off Stadium Way.
It is the first step in the £100m HD One scheme which features a ski slope down from Kilner Bank and a new retail and restaurant complex on the land around the stadium.
Here’s everything we know about the deal, the company operating it and the risk to taxpayers.
Which firm is behind the hotel?
Well known global chain Radisson took on the Park Inn brand in 2002. The brand was bought by Carlson Hotels from Olympus Hospitality Group in 2000, with Radisson’s parent company Rezidor Hotel Group signing a franchise agreement with Carlson to develop the brand.
In Europe Radisson is better known for its more upmarket Blu and Red brands. Its luxury Quorvus brand is only available in Edinburgh, London, Kuwait and Oman. Its economy Prizeotel brand is not yet operating the UK.
What is a Park Inn?
Radisson says Park Inn is its “midscale” brand, cheaper than Red or Blu hotels. Rooms cost from £32 to about £80.
It says: “Park Inn offers a vibrant, friendly environment that provides both business and leisure travelers with the affordable hotel experience they desire. The huge firm describes it as a “fresh and energetic mid-market hotel” offering friendly and welcoming hospitality at a competitive price.
There are more than 140 Park Inns across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and North America with the brand now growing in the UK. The Huddersfield one would be the first in West Yorkshire.
When will it be built?
HD One bosses have said they hope to start construction as “soon as possible” as the hotel scheme is the first building needed in the wider project, which is scheduled for 2017.
Will the driving range be replaced?
There are no plans for a driving range in the HD One scheme but a mini-golf course has been included.
Is Kirklees Council’s £9m loan to the hotel at risk?
It seems unlikely that the hotel would fail even if the ski-slope scheme was never built. KSDL, the firm which owns the John Smith’s Stadium, says they have 75% pre-let the retail space proposed for the HD One scheme. And with a shortage of hotel rooms in Huddersfield anyway, the hotel seems like a sure thing to succeed, not just with football fans but business travellers and tourists.
Why has it taken Kirklees to come up with the cash?
KSDL has not been able to borrow the money itself but with the council owning a 40% stake in KSDL, it was in its own interest to get the project moving. Council chiefs expect to get their loan back while at the same time creating hundreds of jobs and boosting the economy. The loan is not taken from the council’s funds but borrowed at preferential rates from HM Treasury that only councils can get. Much like a mortgage it will be secured against the hotel and is only at risk if the hotel scheme fails.
What’s been the response from the public?
On Facebook Examiner readers are divided on the hotel plan and Kirklees Council’s involvement.
Kimberley Stock said: “It is NOT an investment for the town if visitors cannot visit any of our museums, especially the rugby that’s already been given away to Bradford.
“The investment could have helped pay for those museums to stay open and we could have kept the rugby museum too, if you’d have done your homework Kirklees.
“Oh and that hotel looks like one of the old factories we’ve been knocking down or revamping for uni students over the last few years. It’s an awful design.”
Michael Tyler commented: “Has anyone considered that in the days of reduced funding from central government that income from loans made to companies like this may actually be a GOOD thing in terms of raising revenue for things like... museums and local services.
“It amazes me how short sighted so many people are.”
David Brookes added: “Excellent news. We really need this investment in Huddersfield, now more than ever. Crack on.”
But Paul Scarth suggested: “How about getting a compulsory purchase order and actually doing something with the hotel they’ve already got in the town – the George – directly opposite the train station!”