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Iconic Newmarket Rutland Arms Hotel put up for sale for £3 million after delays to refurbishment scheme

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The future of Newmarket’s iconic Rutland Arms Hotel is once again uncertain with its current owners saying they have been forced to put it back on the market after delays to its redevelopment project saw them incurring massive financial losses.

Review Hotels Ltd, which also owns the town’s Bedford Lodge hotel and spa, bought the historic 17th century property back in March 2018 and had high hopes of restoring it to its former glory and using it to give a much-needed boost to the High Street.

But after planning permission was granted in 2019 for the refurbishment and to demolish the hotel’s more recently built extension which would be replaced by a new annexe providing additional rooms to help make the project commercially viable, the problems started.

An aerial shot of the Rutland Arms in May 2020 when refurbishment work was ongoing
An aerial shot of the Rutland Arms in May 2020 when refurbishment work was ongoing

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 and it was only as the sale progressed that council officers realised a restrictive covenant 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 former Forest Heath council bought the site in 2005 the covenant stayed in place and was left in a lease agreement the authority later signed with current occupants TKMaxx.

In December, West Suffolk Council confirmed it had had to pay a third party landowner £10,000 to release the land from the covenant.

Managing director Noel Byrne said: “As has been documented, since our purchase of the hotel in 2018, we have experienced many obstacles, from local resident objections to our proposals, to very challenging planning requirements and obstructive delays in land covenant releases from local businesses.

“This, as well as the pandemic timing, has conspired to incur massive financial loss to our owners, and a feeling that in some quarters there is a lack of support from the district.

“We are extremely disappointed at this outcome, we had hoped that we could take a lead in improving the High Street in Newmarket and, as existing stakeholders in the town, we were proud to be investing in its history. Sadly, this was not to be, but we hope that the beautiful Rutland Arms Hotel is returned to former glory by caring and committed new owners in the near future.”

Mr Byrne confirmed: “The financial backers of the redevelopment no longer had the ability to see the project through to fruition following the considerable expense and significant delays involved in getting to this point so have been left with no option other than to look for new investors to take the project forward.”

But he added: “It must be said, that throughout this last four years, Newmarket Town Council has been nothing more than 100 per cent supportive, in particular councillors Rachel Hood and Andy Drummond, who have done so much to speed up these delays.”

He said the hotel would be marketed by the Colliers International Real Estate Company with a guide price of £3 million.