Almost there

Work to start in June as owners pledge to convert eyesore into a hotel OWNERS of an eyesore run-down building have said it will be transformed into a hotel by 2008 as long as they are granted planning permission. Bluebird Holdings, the owners of the Man

Work to start in June as owners pledge to convert eyesore into a hotel

OWNERS of an eyesore run-down building have said it will be transformed into a hotel by 2008 as long as they are granted planning permission.

Bluebird Holdings, the owners of the Manulife building in St George's Way, Stevenage, said work to convert the building into a four star Holiday Inn Hotel will start in June.

Stevenage Borough Council's planning officers have 13 weeks to make a decision on granting the planning application from Bluebird Holdings.


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The owners have promised The Comet an artist's impression of the 140-bedroom hotel which we hope to publish next week.

Peter Lawson, spokesman for the owners, said: "Bluebird fully understands the perceived lack of progress has been frustrating for local residents and the borough council, but a great deal of work has in fact been going on behind the scenes.

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"As the owners of the building, Bluebird shares the view that the building should be regenerated and brought back into beneficial use as soon as possible."

Work at the site started in January but Bluebird agreed to halt works at the request of Stevenage Borough Council to agree a detailed scheme for alterations.

In February, Stevenage Borough Council was promised £3.5million from Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to buy and demolish Manulife if Bluebird Holdings did not go ahead with their plans.

A council spokesman said: "Stevenage Borough Council continues to be concerned at the derelict state of Manulife House and so the swift regeneration of this key site is a high priority."

The Bluebird spokesman said the hotel will have a "stylish 21st century appearance. Once complete the building will appear completely brand new both inside and out and virtually unrecognisable."

The hotel will boast a lounge, bar, restaurant and health and fitness facilities. There will also be conference and meeting rooms.

The area around Manulife will be re-landscaped with new paving, feature floodlighting and planting.

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