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Revamp of Rutland Arms Hotel in Newmarket hanging in the balance

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The future of the redevelopment of Newmarket’s iconic Rutland Arms Hotel is hanging in the balance with the owners still waiting for a council to sort out legal issues.

Review Hotels Ltd, which also owns the town’s Bedford Lodge Hotel, bought the historic property back in March 2018 and, the following year, got planning permission to restore the 17th century building, demolish a more recently built extension and build a new annexe providing additional rooms.

But to complete the new development as they wanted to, the hotel’s owners needed to buy 40 square metres of the neighbouring Rous Road car park from West Suffolk Council.

The Rutland Arms Hotel in Newmarket.
The Rutland Arms Hotel in Newmarket.

It was only as the sale progressed that council officials realised a restrictive convenant had been placed on the land by its previous owner, Waitrose, preventing any part of the car park being used for the sale of food or drink.

When the supermarket sold the site to the former Forest Heath District Council in 2005, for £3.2 million, that covenant remained in place and was later left in the lease agreement the authority later signed with TKMaxx.

In a statement, the council said: “A third party landowner is one of the beneficiaries of the restrictive covenants and the sum of £10,000 was their fee to release the council’s land. This was completed in December.”

Council accounts for December also show it had paid more than £9,600 to an outside legal firm to try to sort out the convenants.

Yesterday, Noel Byrne, the hotel’s chief executive, said the issue was still not resolved.

“We are coming towards the last furlong but we are not over the finish line,” he said. “We have spent around £5 million and we have nothing to show for it and it’s all over 40 square metres of land. It’s crazy.”

He added that once the covenant issues were finally resolved, the Rutland’s owners would have to decide whether the redevelopment would still go ahead.