Preston's iconic former Post Office set to be transformed into boutique hotel

A top property tycoon has pledged to deliver a luxury boutique hotel in Preston's former Post Office.

Thursday, 23rd June 2016, 12:01 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 8:15 pm
Preston Buildings.
The old Preston Post Office
Photo: KEVIN McGUINNESS. Preston Buildings. The old Preston Post Office

The iconic listed building is being sold to hotel group Signature Living - the company behind Liverpool’s historic 30 James Street and the football-themed Shankly Hotel.

Bosses hope to transform the building into a four star conference hotel, with a different story capturing the “DNA” of the building being told in each individually-designed room.

The announcement comes just 24 hours after major plans were revealed to reopen Preston’s palatial Park Hotel, overlooking Miller Park, as a luxury venue and spa.

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Signature Living's Shankly Hotel

Signature Living founder Lawrence Kenwright said the vision for the hotel was still in the planning stage and was not confirmed, but said he hoped the building would be a conference hotel.

The former Post Office will form part of Signature Living’s Heritage Brand, and Mr Kenwright said the company wanted to “create stories” with videos explaining them in each of the individually designed rooms.

He explained: “It will be in the same theme as the building, we take the DNA of the building and keep in the same line of that.

“So what we are doing now is pulling out the stories that resonate with the building and then recreating those stories.”

Signature Living's Shankly Hotel

Mr Kenwright said he “loved” the Post Office building, and said: “It’s not so much about buying a piece of land and building a magnolia hotel, we try to find a little bit of history, a little bit of DNA, and make that resonate.”
He said he was drawn to the old Post Office by its structure and position, and said the company had a track record of taking derelict, listed buildings and bringing them back into use.

In Preston, he said the rooms may encompass some of the history of the city, with stories being told through different social platforms.

He said: “We are still doing our homework on the Preston site, but it will still be in the same vein.”

Mr Kenwright said he was “incredibly excited” about the project, which would bring investment into the city and create jobs.

Signature Living's 30 James Street hotel

Town Hall bosses remained tight-lipped about the price the building is being sold for, but a spokesman said: “A “significant sum” is involved that reflects the importance of the building whilst also recognising the significant investment that will be required to turn the building into a high quality, boutique hotel.”

The deal, hoped to bring millions of pounds of new investment into the city centre, was agreed in a behind-closed-doors meeting of Preston Council’s cabinet on Wednesday evening.

Coun Peter Rankin, leader of Preston Council, said: “I am absolutely delighted.

“The former Post Office is a unique and much loved building right in the heart of Preston city centre.

Signature Living's Shankly Hotel

“It’s special and we’ve worked hard to ensure the best possible development for such an important building.

“Signature Living immediately impressed us with their love of the building as well as their commitment to Preston.

“They clearly see the huge potential of the city and are keen to invest and develop here.

“What they’ve done in Liverpool with the Shankly Hotel and 30 James Street is a taste of what we can expect here in Preston.

“The hotels are hugely popular and are consistently highly rated on Trip Advisor.

“Indeed, given Bill Shankly’s connections between Preston and Liverpool it is perhaps fitting that Signature Living should be taking on the building for future generations to enjoy.

Signature Living's Shankly Hotel

“The new hotel will be a great boost for the city and I am sure will become a go to location for Preston.

“It will cater for a wide range of events and activities including weddings and private functions – complimenting nearby attractions including the Harris, the Guild Hall and the new Markets Quarter development.”

City Deal chairman Jim Carter said: “This investment into Preston is yet more evidence of a growing confidence in the city centre.

“Major developments are coming forward, many of which include substantial investment from the private sector.

“These plans that will transform the city centre, boost our economy and provide new job opportunities for local people.

“We’re working hard through our £434m City Deal to expand the transport infrastructure, bring new jobs and new homes to Preston and South Ribble.

“It’s important that we make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to benefit the people who live and work here.”

Signature Living's 30 James Street hotel