The Pickerings closure shock

Closed: The Pickerings Country House Hotel, which now has a barrier placed across the driveway
Closed: The Pickerings Country House Hotel, which now has a barrier placed across the driveway
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A popular venue has closed suddenly – and the owners say it is to be put on the market.

The Pickerings Country House Hotel, in Catterall, shut on January 2, with a simple message on the door telling potential customers it had ceased trading.

A locked barrier was installed at the driveway entrance on Monday.

Managing director Alan Thornton said in a statement on the hotel’s web page: “The directors of the Pickering’s Country House Hotel Ltd have taken the decision to close the hotel for the foreseeable future.

“They will concentrate future resources on their other business activities.

“Selling agents have been asked to look at all opportunities of sale or lease of the hotel.

“Customers and suppliers will be contacted directly, and as soon as possible. During this transition we appreciate your patience.

“Finally, may we thank you for your custom over the past five and a half years of trading”.

Manager Samantha Thornton-Smith said family members had health problems and felt the time had come to close.

“We have had severe family health problems, and it came to the point where we had to put those first,” she explained.

Director Ritchie Thornton added: “I know there are rumours flying about, but we have several businesses, and the time has come to step back from this one.

“We honoured our Christmas and New Year commitments and we have informed people who had booked weddings and have refunded their deposits.

“We are also settling everything with our suppliers, who are being looked after.”

There was controversy in 2009 when the hotel gained planning permission - renewed in 2012 - for the site to be used for housing.

The owners said the motive for the application was to get around problems caused by the credit crunch, believing having planning permission would increase the value of the building, enabling them to borrow money to make improvements – borrowing previously denied by the bank.

When planning permission was applied for last year, Sam Thornton told the Courier: “We are not looking at knocking the place down. That is the last thing on our minds.

“I want to make a success of the hotel ,but have to do something about the valuation of it.”

He accepted some might doubt his intentions, thinking he wanted to sell off the hotel and surrounding land to builders.

But Mr Thornton said he wanted to borrow cash to fund improvements at the hotel, including adding a swimming pool and gym.

However, if the premises are sold, the planning permission will remain in place.