Delay to reopening of historic building

THE reopening of a derelict Grade II listed building as a hotel and restaurant has been delayed.

The owner of the former George and Dragon pub on Hitchin Street in Baldock, Hamid Sabahipour, was granted planning permission by North Herts District Council in September last year to turn the building into a 14-bedroom hotel and restaurant with brasserie.

The historic building has stood empty for more than four years.

Mr Sabahipour, who also owns Zeus Hotel and Restaurant in Baldock High Street, had hoped the new business would be open by the end of 2011, but this week he told The Comet: “It’s open only for the builders!”

He explained: “We had a delay because we had to go back to the council and get a change in our planning permission which allowed us to have four more bedrooms.”

He also said planning permission was needed for an architectural change which saw the original plan for a flat roof transformed into a pitched roof.

“We went back to the council to improve the look of the building and add more bedrooms,” said Mr Sabahipour.

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“We now have a better property which offers more facilities.

“If we lose business, it’s only going to be in the quieter months.

“We are making progress at a steady pace and we are hoping to be finished by the end of March, beginning of April.”

The George and Dragon, which was first mentioned in 1465 and was rebuilt in about 1790, has changed hands a number of times in recent years, and has been home to various enterprises, including a steakhouse and a gym.

Mr Sabahipour said that ever since he came to Baldock in 1981, The George and Dragon has held a special place in his heart.

“I’m very, very excited about it,” he said. “The George and Dragon was the best restaurant in Baldock and I want it to be back to what it was. It was a meeting place and had a wonderful atmosphere and that’s what I’m trying to recreate.”