Plans unveiled for major heritage project at Leicester's Grand Hotel

The restoration will return the Grand Hotel to its former glory.

An artist's impression of how the Grand Hotel building will look.
An artist's impression of how the Grand Hotel building will look.

Plans have been submitted for Leicester's Grand Hotel to undergo a major heritage project, to restore the Grade II listed building to its former glory.


It will also create a new retail unit in Belvoir Street.


Located in Granby Street in the city centre, the repairs and restoration work will be carried out as part of Historic England's High Street Heritage Action Zones.


Amongst the various restoration work, the shopfronts that line the hotel would be returned to a state as close to their original design as possible. A sustainable hardwood timber and toughened glass will be used to achieve this effect.


Bespoke iron gates will be fitted on the recessed doorways and delivery entrances. Uniform signage would also be introduced, consistent with the building.

The front of the The Grand Hotel as it is today.
The front of the building as it is today.

The project follows another successful grant for £750,000 secured from the High Street Heritage Action Zone programme in November. It will be used to fund vital repair works to the ISKON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) building on the corner of Granby Street and Bishop Street.


This iconic Victorian building, designed by architect Joseph Goddard, will benefit from extensive roof repairs to protect its structure and remove it from the Buildings At Risk register.


Restoring the city's prestige

"One of Leicester's most prestigious hotels... spoilt by poorly designed shop fronts, cheap modern materials and oversized signage." - Cllr Adam Clarke, Deputy City Mayor

The work is part of the council's efforts to revitalise the city centre, in order to encourage more businesses to invest and people to visit, post-pandemic. It will also be linked to pedestrianisation works at the end of Granby Street.


Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke said: “The Grand Hotel and ISKON buildings are fine examples of Leicester’s Victorian past, and we have an important responsibility to preserve them for future generations to enjoy.


“The Grand Hotel - now owned by the Mercure group - has always been considered one of Leicester's most prestigious hotels, but today the ground floor is spoilt by poorly designed shop fronts, cheap modern materials and oversized signage.


“In February 2020, thanks to the hard work of the council’s conservation team, Historic England announced that Leicester had been successful in securing £1.5m towards a High Street Heritage Action Zone scheme for the Granby Street and Church Gate conservation areas.


“This means we have been able to support the hotel to get an expert conservation architect team, Conception Architects, to survey the building, and plans have now been submitted for changes that will highlight and enhance the building’s important and attractive historical features.”


Funding the project


High Street Heritage Action Zones are areas up and down the country which have been singled out by Historic England for funding support. They encourage local councils, businesses, architects and contractors to work together to bid for funding which can be used to sympathetically restore historic buildings.


In order to access the funding from Historic England, a grant application will be assessed in detail by a local grants panel – chaired by Cllr Clarke and made up of volunteers including architects and surveyors.


The panel will check the quality of the design, experience of the contractors proposed, and value for money. If this is satisfactory, the grant will be approved and work can begin.


Louise Brennan, Regional Director for the Midlands at Historic England, said: “This is a welcome step forward in the revitalising of this wonderful area of Leicester.


"The Grand Hotel is a prestigious building, and we are looking forward to supporting the repair and refurbishment of its street-facing ground floor. Hopefully, this will encourage more people, both tourists and local residents, to step inside to see its fantastic interior and become part of this historic building’s future.”


The plans for the project will now be considered by the city council’s planning department. If granted planning permission, work on the project is likely to start in summer 2022.

 

Written by Tom Young

Tom is a feature writer for Niche Magazine. He has a degree in Creative Writing and over a decade of experience working in comedy and theatre as the founder of improv group, The Same Faces. He writes about what's on, interesting people, and local events.