IT will be a classic case of back to the future when a glorious piece of Preston’s Victorian past is brought back to life next year.
Grand plans have been submitted for the rebirth of the majestic Park Hotel.
And the stunning renovation, merging old with new, will double the size of the property, first opened in 1883 as a palatial place to stay for well-heeled travellers using the railway station nearby.
Two of the city’s biggest architect firms have collaborated to come up with a spectacular look for the 133-year-old building in East Cliff.
Cassidy and Ashton and Frank Whittle Partnership have combined sensitive restoration of the red brick Grade II Listed building with state-of-the-art extensions to provide 83 new rooms - to add to the 71 already in place - a new spa centre and a 500-place banqueting pavilion overlooking Miller Park.
“We’ve worked with all parties to fine tune the detailed designs and ensure the scheme fits with the city’s needs and the demands of visitors and those with commercial interests,” said Chris Taylor, project architect at Cassidy and Ashton.
“The development is in a conservation area, so not without its challenges. But it is set to create a new tourism asset for the city that will support jobs and the wider economy and enhance Preston’s reputation as a great place to visit and do business.”
The Park Hotel, once described as Preston’s very own Disney fairytale castle, has been an enchanting feature of the city’s skyline since Victorian times.
The grandest of all the buildings in Lancashire County Council’s fire sale catalogue, it was snapped up earlier this year by the authority’s pension fund.
In its heyday it played host to the Prince of Wales (later to become King Edward VII) as well as Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and entertainer Gracie Fields.
The renovation will create a luxury hotel and spa. A high quality conference and office accommodation will replace a shabby 1960s office block which currently occupies part of the site.
LCC have already held talks with a hotel operator to run the new venture on behalf of the pension fund.
Cassidy and Ashton are acting as architects, while Frank Whittle Partnership will be project managers and cost consultants.
When finished it will have 154 bedrooms, 71 in the old building and a further 83 on the upper three floors of a contemporary extension. The lower floors will be used as offices, conference facilities, a loung bar and a gym.
In addition to the 500 guest banqueting pavilion, complete with kitchen and bar, the planning application submitted to Preston City Council, will include a change of use for No 8 East Cliff, also a Grade II Listed building, which will be converted from offices to a new spa facility with treatment and relaxation rooms, manicure and pedicure areas and dining facilities.
The restoration project is the latest chapter in an exciting plan to revitalise Preston city centre. It is the third new hotel to be announced in a matter of months.
David Robinson, managing partner at FWP, added: “The restoration of one of Preston’s most impressive and historic buildings is another sign of the strategic progress the city is making to boost its leisure and tourism offer.
“With the ambitious redevelopment of the Markets Quarter, the revitalisation of the Guild Hall entertainment complex, hotels being planned for the old Post Office building and the Guild Tower, we are seeing Preston significantly up its game.
“This collaboration between Preston’s biggest multi-disciplinary architecture and surveying companies is working very well and brings a huge amount of expertise to the project.”