Application reveals details of BHS building transformation

The former BHS building has sat empty and seemingly neglected since 2016.

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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  • 1jamessmith1

    Sorry!!! just how many hotels and/ or eating establishments paying derisory pocket money wages for half of the year at best, dropping to zero for the rest of the year dose the town need?

    • Does planning permission only go to operations with ‘approved’ salary schemes then? Better a hotel than a derelict eyesore.

      • 1jamessmith1

        Nigel while using Theresa May’s phraseing, a bad job of some thing is worse than not doing it at all. Why couldn’t it be bought by the local college so that they can teach some thing more sustainable than catering, ref earlier. The mostly rubbish jobs offered by hotel/ cafe’s and restaurants have to be subsadised with in work welfare, who do you believe pays for that??? Then from Sept to Easter when work mostly dries up entirely they require more welfare, how might that be paid for. If you reduce the number of hotels cafe’s and restaurants, each should get more customers so should be more sustainable. kingcoil has some good words

  • kingcoil

    170 bed hotel with no parking a senseless waste of this building anyway who wants to stay in a town with zero nightlife? A town that is slowly but surely turning into GODS waiting room. I bet even in Willy Shakespeare’s day there was more nightlife than there is now.

    • Depends on your definition of nightlife? Aren’t theatre, bars, restaurants and cinemas nightlife?

      • kingcoil

        Bars that are all closed by 1am or earlier are of no use when you work until after midnight !! The theatre is a bore when you are only 24, Stratford needs a casino or a nightclub that opens until 4am

  • wicked messenger

    Another nail in Stratford’s coffin! Glad I moved away from this fading town months ago…

    • Quite the reverse, more visitors to the town.

      • 1jamessmith1

        more visitors more grid lock on the roads

      • kingcoil

        More visitors that stay for three hours and then move onto London you obviously do not know much about tourism in this town !

        • I’m no tourism expert but we’re talking about a hotel, and I do know that if you book a hotel room you’d usually stay for more than three hours.

          • kingcoil

            We already have plenty of hotels from budget ones to prestige all of which are running at around 70% capacity so why would we need another one ? The majority of tourists stay for as little as three hours, this has been the same for the last 40 years. Maybe you should read a report that was written in the 70s and you would understand !!! If you look at my comment earlier i was replying to your comment ” Quite the reverse, more visitors to the town.” More buses more cars more gridlock

    • cwiseman

      so why do you keep reading about it then if you’re residing in such a nirvana by comparison?

      • wicked messenger

        I’m not living in a comparative Nirvana! I emigrated to Worcestershire! And in fact there are many many things I miss about Stratford – or rather, the Stratford that used to be. We spent 25 years there, most of them very happy – apart from the final five when the destruction of Stratford gathered pace, a combination of the erosion of its traditional charms and the assault of new developments. The new hotel is merely the latest example – unwanted, unnecessary, it will bring no enhancement to the town or its people, but simply add to its congestion and overcrowding. The one good point is that the development will mend the eyesore that is the BHS building. Until the hotel shuts down, of course.