A DEVELOPER who had agreed to buy the Moorlands Hotel a year ago for £700,000 claims he had to pull out of the deal after being told he wouldn’t get permission to build new homes on the site.
Yet the site has since been taken on by the Mulgrave Estate which is planning to demolish the building on the West Cliff and replace it with 12 town houses.
The developer, who is based locally and has several projects in the Whitby area, is questioning why his idea was knocked back by planners at Scarborough Borough Council (SBC).
He claims he was told it was because council policy wouldn’t allow for changes of use from hotels to residential in prime holiday areas.
But when considering the Mulgrave Estate planning application last month SBC said it didn’t apply because the Moorlands had fewer than 30 bedrooms.
The developer, who wishes to remain anonymous because he doesn’t want to jeapordise future projects, told the Gazette he questioned the Met development where that was converted from a hotel to apartments and claims he was told the policy was brought in after it was completed.
He said: “I was told categorically from planning that under no circumstances would the Moorlands ever get planning for apartments which is what I do.
“I go through the planning process quite often and have a planning knowledge and a good relationship with the department in Whitby and Scarborough.”
He added that he doesn’t have an issue with the Mulgrave Estate and wished it luck in the venture.
“I don’t have an axe to grind with the Mulgrave Estate – I have heard good reports but it was just strange it seemed to have happened very quickly that it got permission.”
The developer also believes the Christian clientele the Moorlands was aiming at prior to its closure in March 2010 may have hampered the amount of business it was doing.
He said an alcohol license and upgrade would have made it more appealing.
He added: “Whitby is very popular with a cross-section of people and is 52 weeks a year. That hotel could have been successful as a hotel. It is only because they didn’t go down the drinks and entertainment route.
“If a private individual took it over and got a licence it opens it opens it up to the general public.”