Watson Building

Ballymore/Merepark reveal plans for Liverpool hotel

Merepark and Ballymore have submitted a detailed planning application for a hotel on the edge of their Central Village retail-led scheme in Liverpool.

The plans aim to revive and extend the Grade II-listed Watson building on Renshaw Street into a four star-plus hotel. The JV claims an international hotel operator has already been secured but declined to disclose the name.

The Watson building, situated next to Lewis's on Renshaw Street which is also to be knitted into Central Village, and the neighbouring former Rapid Hardware paint shop, were acquired by Central Regeneration, the joint venture between Merepark and Ballymore in late 2007.

The 70,000 sq ft Watson building will be extended onto the site of the former Rapid Hardware paint shop to form a 170,000 sq ft, 180 bedroom, hotel designed by Woods Bagot.

Pending planning approval, the joint venture partners will invest £50m restoring the mainly vacant Watson building, making full use of the seven floors and adding an eighth and ninth. The basement will provide underground parking for 16 cars, accessible from Cropper Street.

This planning application follows Merepark and Capital and Counties' £105m proposal to transform the Lewis's building into a 'full and vibrant mixed use leisure destination'. A decision on this scheme, which will see the building's frontage cleaned and its original features retained, is expected later this year.

Ian Jones, director of Merepark, commented: "Working closely with our architects, Woods Bagot, we have developed a scheme which responds well to the local surroundings and provides another dynamic link to Central Village. Sustainability is at the centre of our vision and we're confident that this proposal, combined with our plans for the Lewis's building and Central Village, will result in an exciting mixed-use quarter that brings new purpose and opportunity to the city."

A planning decision is expected by mid-summer and if successful, Central Regeneration hopes to be on site before the end of 2008.

Meanwhile, Central Village is due on site with the £110m first phase of the £160m development in the "coming months", a spokeswoman said. It had originally been due on site in December. No contractor has yet been appointed on the job.

Central Village comprises 25- and 20-storey mid-rise residential buildings, a four-star plus hotel above extensive ground and first floor leisure and retail.

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