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Bid to increase the number of rooms for new city hotel
EMPTY offices in the centre of Oxford could become a 41-bedroom hotel if politicians agree to change the lease terms on a council-owned building.
Next week, councillors will rule on a proposed change to the lease at 15-19 George Street, above the Cheltenham and Gloucester branch and the La Baguette shop.
Brighton One Ltd has had planning permission to convert the empty offices into a 27-bedroom hotel with a gym and restaurant since 2006.
But now it wants to scrap plans for the gym and restaurant and use the space to accommodate 14 extra rooms.
The news has been welcomed by council officers, tourism bosses, traders and councillors.
Experience Oxfordshire director Giles Ingram said: “Oxford’s hotels certainly would appear to be trading at a level which would support increased investment in hotel rooms.
“If they have not got a restaurant on site then that immediately will be a benefit for the other restaurants in the area.”
Rescue Oxford traders’ group spokesman Graham Jones said: “Oxford does need more hotel accommodation within the city centre.
“We have a lot of day visitors, and although it’s lovely to see them, we need more people to stay overnight and spend more money.
“The only concern I would have is the lack of parking associated with hotels in Oxford, and 41 rooms seems like an awful lot if there’s not going to be any parking provision nearby.”
In a report to the city executive board, council senior estates surveyor Lucy Darnell said: “This proposal will bring back into beneficial use premises in the heart of the city centre which have lain vacant and semi derelict for a number of years and which have been targeted by squatters.
“It will secure the development of a scheme for which planning consent exists and for which the tenant appears to have funding (in principle).”
The council and applicant have remained silent about which firm will run the hotel, and many of the documents for a city executive board next week where the lease will be discussed are confidential.
The news comes after a raft of small boutique hotels opened in the city centre.
Last year, the 10-room Bocardo opened above Jamie’s Italian in George Street in space which had been empty since the Cock and Camel pub closed in 2008.
Also in 2012, Sojourn Hotels converted in nearby St Michael’s Street, including the 17th-century Vanbrugh House, into a hotel.
The board will meet on Wednesday at 5pm.