£50m investment to create five-star hotel

One of the UK’s finest neoclassical buildings is set to be transformed into Liverpool’s first five-star hotel, featuring 227 rooms, a spa, a bar and a fine dining restaurant, following a £50m investment.

Liverpool’s historic Martins Bank (pictured), the grade II*-listed building on Water Street designed and built by Herbert James Rowse in 1932, has been snapped up by hotel and conference centre provider Principal Hayley Group. Castlewood Securities, which has owned the property for 20 years, has been acquired by Principal Hayley Group Hotels in the deal.

Castlewood has obtained full planning and listed building consent for the proposed development.

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said: “I’m pleased to see these new and ambitious plans for bringing another iconic Liverpool building back into use.

“It is an important landmark in the city’s business district and its conversion to a destination hotel reflects the continuing strength of the city’s visitor economy. I welcome the new investment by Principal Hayley and look forward to seeing progress during 2016.”

The development represents an investment commitment to Liverpool of nearly £50m. It will lead to the creation of more than 200 long-term jobs and approximately 350 construction jobs over the next two years.

Tony Troy, Principal Hayley Group chief executive, said: “The Martins Bank building provides us with a strategically important presence in the heart of the Liverpool market, where there is a clear consumer need for a full-service luxury hotel and events space.

“Liverpool’s astonishing transformation over the last decade has seen it become one of Europe’s most important exhibition and convention centres as well as one of the most visited cities by tourists. Our development will become the jewel in the crown of Liverpool’s hotel offering.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with the city to bring this plan to fruition and we will be working very closely with heritage experts to ensure our conversion of the building is sympathetic to its unique historic and architectural features.

“Following a very successful year in 2015, we are looking forward to undertaking the redevelopment of this wonderful building  – together with the development of our other key city centre ‘grand-dame’ hotels – and to sharing our exciting plans for the future.”

Bernard Byrne, chief executive of Castlewood Securities, said: “We are delighted to see our vision of converting Martins Bank into Liverpool’s first truly luxury upscale hotel, incorporating a destination spa and amazing leisure and fine dining facilities, being realised.

“Principal Hayley has a proven track record of working with important heritage buildings to deliver such projects. This investment of nearly £50m will create over 200 long-term jobs as well as secure the future of one of Liverpool’s most treasured buildings.”

Former owner Castlewood Securities was advised by law firm Brabners on the acquisition by PH Group.

Work will start on the project this year with a potential opening in late 2017 or early 2018.

The Martins Bank building played an important role in the Allies’ war effort in World War Two.

Much of the country’s gold reserve was secretly transferred to the Martins Bank building at the start of the war to hide it from a feared Nazi invasion. The gold arrived in Liverpool in three heavily guarded trains before being transferred to the bank’s vaults.

A plaque outside the building commemorates the operation, which was dramatised by the Emmy award-winning film The Bullion Boys.