Whelan bid to enlarge hotel plan

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DAVE Whelan’s ambitions to build a hotel next to the DW Stadium are growing.

Not content with planning permission for a 64-room budget facility - granted without objection last month - the sports magnate has decided that it would be better if it were bigger.

So he is now intending to submit an amendment to Wigan Council proposing that the hotel have 100 rooms instead.

The hotel, created partly by converting the fomer Fitness First gym on Stadium Way, is one of several ambitious building projects that Latics chairman Mr Whelan hopes to see come to fruition in the coming months.

After the setback of the North West Development Agency’s axing, his dream of creating a Wigan Boys and Girls’ Club on the Mesnes playing fields has been put back a few months.

However, he is still hopeful that Prime Minister David Cameron, with whom he dined recently, can as promised help secure a multi-million-pound European grant to compensate for the NWDA one that fell through.

But with Mr Whelan and fellow tycoons Bill and Martin Ainscough also pledging millions to the scheme, he said he was hoping work was still going to begin on the centre, which has planning permission, in April or May.

Backed by Mr Whelan, Martin Ainscough also hopes that once the council planning department on New Market Street is vacated when staff move to the new Life Centre, it may be turned into a new engineering academy.

As far as the hotel scheme is concerned, however, there have been few obstacles.

The 64-room building did not even have to go to the council’s planning committee because, as an authority spokesman explained, there were few if any objections and no councillor called it in for debate.

But Mr Whelan is already having second thoughts. He said: “We are now thinking of pushing the number of rooms up to 100.

“That way you have the same overheads but it makes it a potentially more profitable venture. There certainly wouldn’t be any issues with car parking round there because there is plenty.

“Wigan is very short on hotels so this would be just the ticket.”

Mr Whelan has previously stated that such a facility would be particularly desirable for those stopping over in Wigan for sporting or conference events, not least at the stadium.