Work starts on Manulife hotel

PUBLISHED: 11:40 12 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:27 06 May 2010

Broken glass litters the pavement by the Manulife building

Broken glass litters the pavement by the Manulife building

WORK has apparently started to transform an eyesore building, plagued by arson and vandalism, into a four-star hotel. Stevenage Borough Council received complaints from concerned passers-by on Tuesday following the discovery of shattered glass on the pav

The Manulife building which has been derelict for many years

WORK has apparently started to transform an eyesore building, plagued by arson and vandalism, into a four-star hotel.

Stevenage Borough Council received complaints from concerned passers-by on Tuesday following the discovery of shattered glass on the pavement outside the Manulife building in St George's Way, Stevenage.

A spokesman for development company Speymill told The Comet on Wednesday that they had started work earlier in the week.

They said builders are on site and are preparing to demolish the internal structure this week.

In 1999 Bluebird Holdings applied for planning permission to turn the building into a four-star 126-bedroom hotel.

They were given a deadline of Wednesday (January 18) to start work or they would have had to reapply for permission.

The council received a letter from the owners of Manulife on Tuesday saying they planned to start work on the building imminently.

A council spokesman said: "The most important thing is that the building is made safe because we have had so many problems over the past five years with arson and vandalism. If it is turned into a hotel it would be a reasonable use of the building."

John Prescott said two years ago that the building would be knocked down and replaced by 96 homes at a cost of £1.75 million by this March. At the same time he announced a cash injection for Ridgemond Park and Austen Paths.

Building work has started at Ridgemond Park and the first houses will be completed by the summer. The whole project, to build 122 homes, will be completed in 18 months.

Work on Austen Paths, to demolish and replace the retail block, will start in the summer.

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