Work set to start on hotel

OWNERS of a dangerous run-down building have said they understand why they have been accused of using delaying tactics. But Bluebird Holdings, owners of Manulife in St George s Way, Stevenage, has strongly denied the claim. Speaking through its agents T

OWNERS of a dangerous run-down building have said they understand why they have been accused of using delaying tactics.

But Bluebird Holdings, owners of Manulife in St George's Way, Stevenage, has strongly denied the claim.

Speaking through its agents Turley Associates, Bluebird Holdings said it will start work to convert the building into a four star Holiday Inn Hotel before the end of September.

A spokesman said: "The council's pessimism is understandable, but work will restart in weeks.


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"Work originally commenced in January this year and was halted at the request of the local planning authority pending agreement of a revised planning permission including details of the proposed external treatment of the building.

"It was Bluebirds preference that work be allowed to continue while a revised planning permission was agreed, but the council would not agree to this.

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"If they had done, work at the site would be significantly advanced by now."

But leader of the council Sharon Taylor hit back saying: "I really resent the fact that Bluebird Holdings blame us for delaying work on the site. They have treated Stevenage residents with complete contempt.

"The building is unsightly and sometimes dangerous. It is an eyesore. The council has had to spend a great deal on making it safe - taxpayers' money which has never been reimbursed by Bluebird.

"We want them to get on with it although we would prefer it to be used for housing. I just hope they get on with it."

A Turley Associates spokesman said: "For a multitude of reasons, this project has taken a lot longer than Bluebird had originally anticipated to get on site, and they are acutely aware that this delay has been extremely frustrating for the local council and residents alike.

"We all want to see this site tidied up. Bluebird strongly refute any suggestion that they are using delaying tactics and Stevenage Borough Council is now fully aware that the intention is to recommence works in September in line with the planning permission granted in June."

Hotel project manager Ian Grieve said: "Bluebird is aware that the Genesis Housing Group has submitted a planning application to the council proposing the demolition of the seven-storey Manulife House and its replacement with a 10-storey high block of flats and a combined fire and ambulance station.

"I wish to confirm that Bluebird remains fully committed to converting the building to a new hotel and this will become fully apparent when works recommence in a few weeks time. On this basis any attempt to compulsory purchase the site will clearly be strongly resisted.

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