THE ambitious scheme to transform Stratford’s former BHS building into a luxury hotel – exclusively revealed by the Herald in the June – has taken another step forward with the submission of a planning application.
The prominent but neglected site was on track to be turned into a complex of restaurants and retailers after previous owners Hermes Investments secured planning permission – but a change of ownership has seen a drastic rethink.
The application now submitted to Stratford District Council show comprehensive plans to remodel the building to make it work as a 170-bed hotel, with gym, bar, meeting rooms etc.
The Herald’s exclusive revealed the flagship site had been sold to an unknown buyer and that a proposal had been put forward for a company called Bespoke Hotels Ltd to lease the site for at least 25 years, with the development operated as an Ark hotel.
The expectation then was planning permission would be brought forward in the summer, with work starting as soon as the autumn and a potential opening in 2021.
That first step has now arrived with the full plans now in the public arena, revealing that they have been submitted on behalf of Beyond Retail Property Fund Limited.
These show how the huge building would be transformed to create lower floor to ceiling heights in keeping with typical hotel expectations and also that the older, Grade II listed building part of the former BHS, numbers 32-34 Bridge Street, would be turned into a separate restaurant.
There would be external changes including an alteration to the roof of the main building but the plans say the change in height that results would not be greatly different from now.
The main entrance to the hotel will be where the main BHS entrance was and no car parking is planned on site for staff and guests with the latter being pointed to the public car parks close by, notably the Bridgeway multi-storey. The applicants point out that BHS did not have parking for staff or customers,
At the time the plan was first revealed there was a mixed reaction to the scheme.
Stratforward BID director Joe Baconnet was broadly in favour of the plan, while others were hostile to the decision to go for yet another hotel that would put the squeeze on existing businesses.
The plans can be seen on the district council website, reference 19/02039/LBC with a deadline of 27th August to make comments.
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