Preston's former railway hotel to be restored

The former Park Hotel, which overlooks Avenham and Miller Parks in Preston, is to be restored to its former glory by two Lancashire companies.

Park Hotel plans Preston

Cassidy and Ashton and Frank Whittle Partnership (FWP), both of Preston themselves, have submitted plans to Lancashire County Council's development committee.

They hope to turn what is now offices back into a 156-bedroom, four-star hotel, as well as the addition of a new spa, banqueting pavilion and offices.

The pair said the renovation aims to 'revive the golden age of railway hotels'. The 3.3 acre complex was first opened in 1882 as the grandly titled London and North Western and Lancashire and Yorkshire Hotel with subways connecting guests and passengers directly to the platforms of Preston railway station.

Cassidy and Ashton is acting as architects and FWP as project managers and cost consultants working for Local Pensions Partnership, a collaboration between Lancashire County Council and the London Pensions Fund Authority managing £16bn of pension assets.

The Park Hotel was acquired from Lancashire County Council in 2016 and the significance of the project lies in the need for Preston to show ambition and provide modern luxury hotel facilities as well as retaining its historic assets.

The investment from the county’s pension fund in Preston is a real statement of intent for the city and the county and the reinstatement of a four star hotel - next to what is intended to become an HS2 mainline rail station – proves there is ambition to drive the city’s economy deep into the 21st century.

Assigning the multi-million restoration project to two of Preston’s premier firms, each with extensive national expertise in their respective disciplines working with blue chip clients, is also a major investment in the city’s ability to deliver high profile and complex projects.

In addition to restoring the main buildings of the Park, the plans aim to demolish the neighbouring concrete office building to be replaced with a building housing more bedrooms, conference facilities, a lounge bar and gym.

A 500-seat banqueting pavilion overlooking Miller Park adds to the leisure provision of the scheme and neighbouring Grade 2 listed houses are being converted from offices to a spa with treatment and relaxation rooms, manicure and pedicure areas and dining.

Chris Taylor, project architect at Cassidy and Ashton, said: “We have designed a scheme that adds a much-needed four star hotel to Preston hospitality provision for both business guests and tourists.

“Perhaps as important, we are restoring a major city landmark to its former glory and by adding wedding, conference and spa facilities for hotel guests and the public we will be creating a lot of new jobs in the hospitality sector.”

David Robinson, managing partner at FWP, said: “Protecting heritage assets is important to the culture of a city and Preston has many fine civic and private buildings to be proud of.

“Some are being reimagined and improved like the new market hall, the Harris museum and library or the bus station. Others, like the Guild Hall entertainment complex or the old central post office, have been taken into private hands and given a new lease of life.

“The Park Hotel is one of the most prominent landmarks visitors see when arriving into Preston by rail from London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds or Liverpool. Knowing the distinctive red brick building is a luxury hotel immediately tells them Preston is an ambitious, forward-looking city.”

The collaboration between Preston’s biggest multi-disciplinary architecture and surveying companies is a sign that the talent and expertise exists in the city to take on ambitious regeneration projects. Between them, Cassidy and Ashton and FWP have worked on new buildings for the University of Central Lancashire, the revamped Bus Station, the successful new market and the Guild Hall entertainment complex.