Rundown historic building Victoria Hall in South Shields - formerly home to La Rossa restaurant and once used by criminals as drugs farm - set to be rescued by hotel developer

A rundown architectural gem, formerly home to popular Italian restaurants and once used by criminals as a drugs farm, is set to be rescued by a hotel developer.

The former La Rossa Italian restaurant in the Victoria Hall
The former La Rossa Italian restaurant in the Victoria Hall

The Victoria Hall has watched over Fowler Street in South Shields town centre since 1896, housing several businesses over the decades, including Italian restaurants Casa Rosa and La Rossa in recent years.

A total of 488 plants, capable of producing skunk cannabis, were recovered when police raided the building.

The vacant upper floors of the Victoria Hall, which are set to become a hotel under new plans

Since then the upper floors of building have sat empty, the ornate facade looking rundown.

Now proposals have been lodged with South Tyneside Council to revamp the vacant upper sections and restore the building to its former grandeur.

Applicant Property Developments Ltd hopes to open an ‘aparthotel’ at the site – with apartments offered via a hotel-style booking system.

If approved, the scheme would offer seven apartments for customers and create three jobs.

According to a heritage statement, the building would benefit from a raft of improvement works.

This includes roof repairs, roof lights, a side entrance door and a new mezzanine floor in the ‘public hall’ section of the building to make room for apartments.

Under the plans, an existing staircase will be fixed up to serve as a communal access to all floors while the first floor ‘tower room’ will be converted into a lounge.

Heritage features, including a mosaic tile floor spelling out ‘Victoria Hall’ at the building’s entrance, will also be preserved.

A final decision on the plans is expected by November 12 following consultation. Before hotel works take place, developers must win listed building consent from the council.

Historic England describes the building as a “public hall, offices and shops” dating from 1896 with 20th Century building in the renaissance revival style.

Its ‘Ionic pilasters’, octagonal, two-storey tower topped with a dome, and “fine plaster-work decoration” are among features listed by heritage chiefs