First look at new 91-bedroom, seven-storey luxury hotel planned for Norwich city centre
PUBLISHED: 12:36 22 July 2020 | UPDATED: 08:25 23 July 2020
A new multi-million pound hotel with a bar and restaurant planned for Norwich has moved a step closer.
Despite the impact of coronavirus, plans are going ahead for a seven-storey hotel in Chamberlain House, Dove Street, off Guildhall Hill, which will create around 28 new jobs. The building was once the celebrated Chamberlin’s department store, dubbed the “Selfridges of Norwich”.
Artist’s impressions have now been released which depict the hotel with an ultra-modern interior while retaining its Victorian architectural features.
Images, designed by Norwich’s CAM Architects, show a new roof line meaning bedrooms have views over the market place towards St Peter Mancroft Church. A glass walkway shows how people will be able to look out across a panoramic city scape across towards City Hall from an high-level hotel corridor.
Plans are to extend the 1960s rear of the building, bordering Pottergate and Dove Street, previously housing Sonkai Jewellers, which last year relocated to the Royal Arcade.
Under the plans this section will be demolished and rebuilt, however other retail units including Tesco, Number 12 barber shop and Stranger’s Coffee are to be retained. Much of the building above these units has been empty or used for storage.
The hotel will have seven floors, including a basement and mezzanine. The proposal still needs planning permission and an application has been made to Norwich City Council.
It is not yet known which hotel operator will be taking it over with a number “having shown interest” and talks being “well advanced”. It is hoped that building work can start in the first or second quarter of 2021, with completion expected in the autumn of 2022.
Stefan Gurney, executive director of the Norwich Business Improvement District, welcomed the plans but said the hotel needed to be “high spec” so as not to harm the surrounding buildings and businesses.
“We welcome a large investment in the city especially at this time but it needs to be something which compliments the existing city, we don’t want something that doesn’t add value,” he said.
“We welcome the opportunity to liaise with the developers to be the voice of the surrounding businesses which a large hotel like this can have an impact on. If done correctly, it can be a real success in Norwich.”
John Walker, of property consultants Ward Hill Walker, acting on behalf of the pension fund investor owner, said: “This is a very exciting proposal which makes superb and appropriate use of a very high profile and under-utilised building, in the heart of the city.
“The whole of the block will be brought into use to create a landmark hotel facility with superb views of Norwich. It will bring hundreds of visitors right into the city centre.
“This will be excellent news for the retail and leisure sectors in the city and help fill the shortage of hotel beds in central Norwich. The city has strong year round occupancy levels, with annualised occupancy higher than that of the wider UK regional market.
“It will be wonderful to see a grand, old building, which played a fascinating historical role in Norwich life, being brought back to life and once again contributing to the city’s economy.”
The ‘Selfridges of Norwich’
Chamberlin’s department store in Guildhall Hill was founded in the late Victorian era by George Moore Chamberlin, three times a Norwich mayor.
In the post-war years, it offered drapery and house furnishings with their own factory producing men’s sports clothing.
An article written at the turn of the century said the building was red brick and four storeys high, extending along Dove Street, where it was three storeys. The ground floor had lots of glass and there were five shop windows facing the market place and two entrances.
The article stated: “This fine shop is warmed throughout with hot air and lighted by chandeliers of artistic design and elegant appearance ... close to the main entrance is the millinery department - a richly decorated saloon ... the buyer for this section visits Paris and London bringing back the latest and most fashionable models which are reproduced in the workrooms of this firm.”
It operated a strict recruitment programme in the 1930s and 1940s with female assistants apprenticed and living above the shop. However, they were not allowed to serve customers for their first year of training, acting as runners and only in their third year with the firm allowed to serve on the shop floor.
The store was finally taken over in the 1950s.
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