Hotel plan for former insurance HQ

By Juliette MaxamA LANDMARK office building in an historic town looks set to be converted into a hotel and flats.The former Royal London Insurance headquarters building in Colchester has been empty for two years since the company merged with United Assurance and moved to Wilmslow in Cheshire.

By Juliette Maxam

A LANDMARK office building in an historic town looks set to be converted into a hotel and flats.

The former Royal London Insurance headquarters building in Colchester has been empty for two years since the company merged with United Assurance and moved to Wilmslow in Cheshire.

Colchester Borough Council has been recommended to approve this week a plan to split up the castle-shaped building into offices, a 57-bedroom hotel, a leisure suite, a restaurant and 24 flats.


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Since the building, which is linked to a multi-storey car park by a walkway, has been on the market, there has been no significant interest in it.

Marketing agents claimed it was unlikely any company would want it for a headquarters and the scale of the building was substantially greater than the rate of office take-up in Colchester.

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Under the proposal before the council, almost half of the building would remain as offices, which could be available as a whole or could be split up.

The hotel would target the budget and business market. The English Tourist Board said at the moment Colchester does not have enough hotel bedrooms and this plan would bring the town about equal with Ipswich.

Planning officers have recommended the council's planning committee should rubber stamp the plan at its meeting on Thursday.

A report to councillors said: "The success of this development hinges on an appropriate mix of alternative complementary uses in this significant modern building and the reuse of this site will see a prominent building in a key location, accessible by a wide range of transport other than by private car, brought back into use."

Royal London Insurance has agreed to make a £50,000 contribution towards enhancing the infrastructure around the building, pay £25,000 towards security cameras on the site and give £17,224 to Essex County Council's education department should the plan be approved.

juliette.maxam@eadt.co.uk

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