Plans to safeguard landmark Blackpool buildings with world first hotel
Written by John Williamson on 09/07/2021
Details have been released of plans for a hotel in two landmark Blackpool buildings which will safeguard their futures and create a world first for a global brand.
The developer behind the scheme – Cheshire-based Ashall Projects – has submitted a planning application to create a high-quality 148-room Hotel Indigo and Indigo Suites
in the Grade II listed former Post Office and Sorting Office located in the heart of the town.
It believes the hotel will play a key role in attracting tourists and business people to the town whilst bringing two of the town’s finest early 20th century buildings back into use and ensuring their survival.
Ashall Projects is working in partnership with Blackpool Council and IHG, one of the leading global hotel companies. Each Hotel Indigo is different and draws on the story of its local area, history, culture and key landmarks. This starts at the design stage, informs the selection of decoration and furnishings and even influences the choice of local ingredients on the restaurant’s menu.
The site is a short walk from the railway station, the Winter Gardens and the new £28m Conference Centre, Blackpool Tower and North Pier. It is also close to the new tramway extension connecting Blackpool North with the Promenade.
Many of the original features of the Post Office, which opened in 1910, will be retained. They include the frontage onto Abingdon Street which has a number of stained-glass windows which overlook a distinctive row of eight red telephone boxes. Inside, the marbled flooring, cornicing and other attractive architectural features will be restored.
The Post Office and Sorting Office are separated by a large interior courtyard, which will also be transformed.
Mark Ashall, Director of Ashall Projects, said: “This will be a Hotel Indigo with a difference. It will cater for both short-stay leisure and business visitors and it will also offer extended stay suites with additional facilities, such as kitchenettes, to provide the space and amenities for guests who want to stay longer.
He added: “There are nearly 150 Indigo Hotels across the globe but this will be the first time anywhere that Indigo will be offering extended stay rooms in addition to the classic Indigo rooms. We believe this will allow us to provide a wide range of accommodation options which will meet a variety of customer requirements.”
The hotel will employ around 70 staff and 215 people will work on the construction.
Ashall Projects has considerable experience in developing and opening hotels, including the Aloft in Liverpool. The former Royal Insurance building, which was described by a national newspaper as a “dilapidated gem”, underwent a multi-million pound restoration and won BCIA’s Building Project of the Year in the year it was completed.
“There are many similarities between our work in Liverpool and what we plan to do in Blackpool,” said Mark Ashall, Director of Ashall Projects.
“The building there had been derelict for 20 years and was in such a poor condition that it had been placed on the National Buildings at Risk register. That’s hard to believe when you look at it now.”
He added: “There’s a lot of work to do on this project, but we have the resources, knowledge and commitment. Instead of being neglected and in danger of becoming an eyesore, these buildings will enhance the town centre and provide the world’s first Indigo hotel of this type which will help attract all kinds of visitors to Blackpool.”
The hotel is being designed by Franklin Ellis Architects which – like Ashall Projects – has an impressive track record in delivering hotel projects, including the Indigo Hotel in Chester City Centre which was completed in 2019.
Matthew Branton, partner with Franklin Ellis Architects, said the project would “further assist the wider regeneration of the locality and its place at the heart of Blackpool’s Town Centre Conservation Area.”
It would provide “an Oasis in the Centre of Town feel for visitors and guests, whilst enhancing Blackpool’s high end guest room offering alongside the provision of several options for events and meetings to improve the town’s corporate and conferencing offering.”
The project is one of three development projects to be put forward in Blackpool’s Levelling Up Fund bid that was submitted to central Government on 02 July. Other projects include An Active Travel/Town Centre Access Scheme and redevelopment work and creation of a new convention space with retail, within the Olympia area of the resort’s iconic Grade 2* Winter Gardens. The three schemes are interrelated and ‘oven-ready’ to start delivery before end of March 2022, and meet the criteria and three key themes of the Round One bidding process – transport, regeneration and town centre investment and culture investment.
Leader of Blackpool Council Cllr Lynn Williams said, “Blackpool Council fully supports the plans to bring this key historic property back to life. This upscale hotel development will attract extended stay business and leisure guests to the centre Blackpool all year round for the benefit of local businesses. We look forward to working with Ashall Projects on this exciting new project.”