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PLANS have been submitted for a major heritage project that will help restore Leicester’s Grand Hotel to its former glory.

The Grade II listed building, in Granby Street in the city centre, is set to be repaired and restored as part of Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zones. 

Picture: Leicester City Council

Under the plans, the shopfronts that line the hotel would be reinstated as close to the building’s original design as possible, using a sustainable hardwood timber and toughened glass. A new retail unit on Belvoir Street would also be created.

Recessed doorways and delivery entrances would be fitted with bespoke iron gates, and uniform signage would be introduced, in keeping with the building. 

There would also be improvements made to the hotel’s entrance, with cleaning and repairs made to the oriel windows and balcony. Specialists would look at the existing canopy above the entrance and determine whether it could be retained and restored.

The project follows another successful grant for £750,000 secured from the High Street Heritage Action Zone programme in November, which will be used to fund vital repair works to the ISKON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) building on the corner of Granby Street and Bishop Street. This iconic Victorian building, designed by architect Joseph Goddard, will benefit from extensive roof repairs to protect its structure and remove it from the Buildings At Risk register.

The work being carried out as part of the Heritage Action Zone, and the linked pedestrianisation works at the end of Granby Street. are part of the council’s efforts to revitalise the city centre and encourage more businesses to invest and people to visit, post-pandemic. A number of new businesses have set up recently along the street.

“The Grand Hotel and ISKON buildings are fine examples of Leicester’s Victorian past, and we have an important responsibility to preserve them for future generations to enjoy,” said Cllr Adam Clarke, Deputy city mayor.

“The Grand Hotel – now owned by the Mercure group – has always been considered one of Leicester’s most prestigious hotels, but today the ground floor is spoilt by poorly designed shop fronts, cheap modern materials and oversized signage.

“In February 2020, thanks to the hard work of the council’s conservation team, Historic England announced that Leicester had been successful in securing £1.5m towards a High Street Heritage Action Zone scheme for the Granby Street and Church Gate conservation areas. 

“This means we have been able to support the hotel to get an expert conservation architect team, Conception Architects, to survey the building, and plans have now been submitted for changes that will highlight and enhance the building’s important and attractive historical features.”

High Street Heritage Action Zones are areas up and down the country which have been singled out by Historic England for funding support. They encourage local councils, businesses, architects and contractors to work together to bid for funding which can be used to sympathetically restore historic buildings.

In order to access the funding from Historic England, a grant application will be assessed in detail by a local grants panel – chaired by Cllr Clarke and made up of volunteers including architects and surveyors. The panel will check the quality of the design, experience of the contractors proposed, and value for money. If this is satisfactory, the grant will be approved and work can begin.

The plans for the project will now be considered by the city council’s planning department. If granted planning permission, work on the project is likely to start in summer 2022.