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Former Debenhams set to become Motto by Hilton hotel

Hotel giant Hilton is set to operate a new hotel in the heart of Stratford– provided planners approve the proposal.

An artist's impression of the possible new Motto by Hilton hotel planned for Bell Court. (46173959)
An artist's impression of the possible new Motto by Hilton hotel planned for Bell Court. (46173959)

After the Debenhams department store closed in 2019, the Herald revealed that the owner of Bell Court, Blue Coast Capital, was planning to redevelop the site as an 80-bed hotel.

That plan, which also included residential units and lower-floor retail space, was granted permission last year.

However, this week Blue Coast confirmed it was in the process of submitting a revised application for a bigger 148-bed hotel.

A Hilton hotel is planned for the former Debenhams store. (46172632)
A Hilton hotel is planned for the former Debenhams store. (46172632)

This would see the hotel expanded into the vacant upper floors at the former H&M building, in addition to occupying the upper three floors and some of the ground floor of the former Debenhams.

The developer has also announced that the hotel will be called Motto by Hilton, becoming the first Hilton carrying the Motto brand to open outside London.

The Motto concept is described as a high-quality, selectively located, mid-price hotel and makes use of flexible connecting rooms, where multiple rooms can be linked together if required.

In Stratford it is set to feature a communal ground-floor area, potentially with a coffee shop.

Blue Coast says the revised plan will retain ground-floor retail units in Wood Street, High Street and the former H&M building in Taskers Way, while ten residential units are also included.

Blue Coast's UK real estate director John Stacey said: “Repurposing the vacant Debenhams department store has been a key focus for us because we’ve seen how the lack of progress at Stratford’s former BHS building has damaged Bridge Street.

“I think attracting a company like Hilton, and particularly the exciting Motto concept, is a real vote of confidence in Stratford. Having an internationally known, high-quality brand like Hilton in the middle of the town could have the ripple effect of boosting surrounding businesses and attracting new ones.

“The H&M unit has been vacant for almost four years now, but we are planning to connect the upper floors via the connecting bridge with hotel rooms on both sides. The ground floor of the former H&M will remain retail space.

“It has clearly been a difficult year for retail and big companies do not want to make big decisions in the middle of a pandemic. I’m optimistic that Stratford is in a good position to recover, but I think it will take time.

"Having said this, I would like to be in a position where we are announcing new arrivals to Bell Court in the coming months, and pop-ups and independents may be part of this.”

The revised plans will go on display on the Bell Court website on Monday and will remain there until 10th May for the public to leave comments.

Blue Coast is planning to submit its revised planning application in the summer.

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