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May 22, 2024
PI Global Investments

Developer plans to revive Cleethorpes homes into Apart-Hotels

A property developer has revealed details of its plans to revive empty Cleethorpes homes that were once used as a cannabis farm.

Four vacant properties in Isaacs Hill were discovered last summer to be a cannabis farm by Humberside Police. The homes were subsequently sold at auction as the development company that owned them folded.

Robertson Properties Ltd snapped them up and has since filed planning applications to turn two into apart-hotels. The others could be too, though it depends on how the first two fare.

The journalist spoke to mother and son Natalie and James D’Souza after previous coverage of the applications. “”We’ve been investing in Grimsby and Cleethorpes for the last 12 years, on and off,” said James. They have specialised in revamping terraced homes, such as in Durban Street, Grimsby, and renting them out again at affordable levels, the pair said.

The Isaacs Hill properties came to their attention when driving past on the adjacent roundabout. After contact with a friend in Southampton running a similar scheme, they decided to look to create an apart-hotel use.

James explained their view is there is “a gap in the market for something a bit more high end” with accommodation in Cleethorpes. It is proposed to convert two of the homes into six-bed apart-hotels. Nine guest rooms would have kitchenettes and all en suites.

Anything less than 12 rooms probably would not be worth their while, they said. “We need to know how big the demand is going to be,” he said about the possibility of converting the other two properties.

“If it goes well and there’s high demand, then we’ll look at the other two as the same. If we find their occupancy is relatively low, we’ve still got our options open.”

Natalie explained the apart-hotel idea’s context with the changes since 2012 in Cleethorpes and the surrounding area, including growth of the wind farm sector, and Levelling Up Fund-supported projects in the town. “There’s no way we’d probably have been running this type of scheme back then. With the more positive changes we’ve seen, there is a bit more of a call for that now.”

The first property that would be developed, if approval is given, will have five apart-hotel rooms with kitchenettes, and one hotel room. “It’s a bit of a new adventure,” Natalie said. The pair emphasised friends already running similar schemes whose experiences they are drawing from, as well as training done.

There would be no same day booking, to discourage possible party clientele. They hope to attract the likes of visiting medical practitioners, wind farm sector workers, tourists, and individuals visiting relatives.

“Ultimately, we’d rather them go to a local person’s business than a Wetherspoons or McDonald’s,” said Natalie, on possible partnering with the likes of a local cafe for guests to use them. “A big ethos of ours is helping other independent businesses.” James estimated the properties have been vacant as a residence for two to three years.

‘They’re not going to remain empty’

The properties were filled with rubbish and also had electrics cut off after the illegal cannabis farm activity discovered last summer. “Because the doors had been open as well, foxes had been in and they were messing in there,” Natalie said, referring to unpleasant leavings. All the rubbish had been cleared by Christmas, new gutters had been put in place, and the electrics resolved.

The pair said “serious investment” is going into the properties. “We’ll get the things that need to be done, whether we get planning or not,” Natalie said of restoring the buildings.

The applications have had supportive comments, albeit from far away. A few residents have raised concerns on parking and fears it would be HMOs. Natalie made clear because of the category of use sought, C1, there are no plans at all for HMOs.

The first two properties together that applications have been filed on would have four parking spaces. All four would have eight spaces. James acknowledged the concern: “It’s a shame there’s so much space out the back but there’s no way to get the cars out there.”

How the first two apart-hotels developed would shape the decision whether to convert the others similarly. “That’ll give us an indication as to how many cars are coming for those 12 rooms and that will affect our decision moving forwards about what we do with the other two properties.”

“It’s more space than any other guest house on that road is offering at the moment,” added Natalie. The pair emphasised above all their commitment to transforming the empty homes back into use. “They’re not going to remain empty,” said Natalie.

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