Marylebone hotel to save disused fire station
Josie Hinton PLANS to turn a vacant Victorian fire station into a high-class hotel have been given the green light by Westminster planners. Owners the Portman Estate have won council backing to turn the Manchester Square Fire Station in Chiltern Street in
PLANS to turn a vacant Victorian fire station into a high-class hotel have been given the green light by Westminster planners.
Owners the Portman Estate have won council backing to turn the Manchester Square Fire Station in Chiltern Street into a 33-room luxury boutique hotel.
The decision will see the loss of a community building in favour of a hotel but councillors said the development would see the Grade II-listed building saved from disrepair.
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Cllr Robert Davis, who chaired the planning committee last Thursday, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to bring back into public use this valuable building. I'm very excited by this project."
Plans for the hotel include an upmarket restaurant as well as a bar and gallery space. Original features such as the old watchman's tower and fireman's pole will be restored and incorporated into the new design.
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Last year the Wood&Vale revealed that top New York-based real-estate developer Andre Balazs - famed for creating some of the world's chicest lodgings - is the man behind the hotel revamp.
The Portman Estate is now in the process of concluding negotiations with the 51-year-old hotelier, and hopes to see work commence before the end of the year.
Simon Loomes, strategic projects manager for the Portman Estate, said he hoped the hotel would be up and running before 2012.
"We're delighted," he said. "The proposed 33-bedroom hotel will bring a new life to this unique Grade II-listed property.
"Its setting in Chiltern Street near Marylebone High Street will complement this fine London shopping street and provide a discreet luxury environment from one of the world's best hoteliers."
As a part of the plans, a contribution of �350,000 is being made by the estate to make improvements to Chiltern Street including traffic calming measures and five new trees.
The committee also accepted a trade-off in which exclusive preparatory school Wetherby, in Bryanston Square, meets the requirement of providing community use despite objections from Cllr Barbara Grahame.
Carl Upsall, chairman of the Marylebone Association, said he fully supported the decision.
"The development is going to be a great use for the building and it's certainly more favourable than seeing this historic building lie empty," he said. I'm relieved that the Portman Estate and the council managed to come to some agreement.