THE West’s hotels sector may be emerging from the downturn in better shape than it has been since 2007.

Marcus Plaw, associate director of Planning with Colliers International, said the Government’s decision to relax planning controls on a number of building sectors could throw struggling owners an unexpected lifeline.

He said: “By relaxing planning controls relating to hotel operations, the Government has made it easier for hoteliers to convert to a state funded school, an academy or to a registered nursery. “This relaxation will generally be welcomed by hoteliers who are perhaps looking at alternative uses for their properties.”