Restoring Historic Hotels

As well as the challenges of fulfilling the responsibilities to the heritage of historic buildings, with hotel restoration, a number of other complications can make the process complicated and lengthy.

About Permitted Development

Some changes, if particularly small or superficial might pass as being Permitted Development. Often updating windows to double glazing for example, or the installation of lighting will qualify under these circumstances. As such, if your changes are small in proportion, then the ‘permitted development’ option might allow an easier restoration process. However, for very historic and protected buildings even such small and superficial changes need planning permission. This is controlled by local planning authorities.

Protecting Historic Areas

This is often more concerned with preserving the architectural character of an area. For example, if a building has features such as leaded windows or ‘leadlights’ these might be protected for reasons of regional heritage. This is especially true of buildings which are within a tighter collection of buildings in a historic village. In such circumstances, the local planning authorities have a responsibility to preserve the character of the historic sites, maintaining the coherence of settlements.

As a result, those buildings with particular characteristics relating to minor elements of their presentation or structure might find themselves with difficulties making changes, especially those which form a consistent part of a heritage settlement or group of buildings. Given that such buildings tend to appeal to hoteliers, offering a sense of history and heritage presentation for guests, this can be a regular problem for those looking to develop hotel buildings.

If the plans involve more serious developmental changes, then these will certainly involve planning permission and legal assistance. That’s not to say that it isn’t possible to make more severe structural changes to a building, but that the preservation of the building’s style and presentation will need to be maintained and the work will need to avoid work which fundamentally alters heritage features. Historic England will often have the opportunity to comment and advise on changes which would significantly alter the historic environment.

Some Examples

If the building is historic but not listed, then permission is easier to obtain. In these cases however, reflecting the heritage of the building is more of a stylistic or cultural obligation than a legal one. Many, such as this conversion or an Inn near Cerne Abbas reflects elements of the proportions and colouring of the original parts of the building. The Mandarin Oriental in London recently underwent the ‘most extensive renovations’ in its history, some images can be enjoyed here, work will be ongoing until 2018. Joyce Wang, a designer with an international reputation has been undertaking the re-design of the space. She notes one influence on the design was the early 20th Century’s Golden Age of Travel, incorporating elements of the period’s 1920s style. This is a way to marry past and present without an incongruous separation between the original elements of design and architecture, and the redeveloped sections.