Kirklees Council has revealed that the George Hotel is set to cost £20 million to turn into a 91-bedroom hotel.
However, when the work is completed the finished Grade II*-listed building will be worth £5 million less – an estimated £15 million.
The council’s Cabinet will be asked to approve the £20 million spending at a meeting next week.
A report to Cabinet also reveals that the council is set to sign a deal with Radisson Hotel Group. The George would trade under the Radisson Red brand.
When the hotel closed in 2013 it had just 60 bedrooms. For it to become viable, the proposed hotel needed at least 90 rooms.
Under the council’s plans the new-look George will include:
• 91 bedrooms, with a broad mix of room types and sizes including suites and family rooms;
• a banqueting / events space for approximately 140 covers and a gym at lower ground level;
• bar/restaurant/dining experience for approximately 70 covers on the ground floor;
• a conference room (76 sqm);
• a guest lounge (32 sqm);
• a multi-purpose conference and private dining room (53 sqm) at first floor level.
Kirklees Council has already started repair work on the hotel and has secured two major grants – £1,365,000 from the Government’s Get Building Fund and £851,000 from Heritage Action Zone via Historic England.
The council marketed the hotel to 55 operators and 10 submitted applications of interest. After an interview process Radisson was chosen as the preferred operator.
The council, which paid £1.8 million for the building in 2020, has yet to decide on an ownership structure going forward but it is likely to be some kind of partnership arrangement.
The council report says that as a Grade II* listed building the restoration of the George as a hotel did not stack up financially for a private sector developer. It was only possible for the council due to lower interest rates on borrowing.
The report says a planning application could be submitted in November with work starting in summer 2023 with an opening date in November 2024.
The report says hotel rooms would cost an average of £80-£90 a night though £100-£110 could be possible.
The report also warns that the hotel is unlikely to make a profit and cover its costs in the early years and that the council will have to make money available in the annual budget.
This could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, depending on interest rates at the time.
The report says: “This is a regeneration project and it is crucial that the public sector are involved in order to bring this building back into use.
“As can be seen over the last nine years, in private ownership it had not been possible to create a commercially viable scheme and the building had been left to deteriorate further.
“The public sector such as the council have the ability to source funding from central government for regeneration projects and bringing historic buildings back in to use.
“The public sector are also able to access cheaper borrowing than the private sector through the Public Works Loan Board and given councils have the ability to claim back VAT on refurbishment projects it can help to reduce outgoings and create a more viable project than if the scheme was led by the private sector.
“Furthermore, the council have the ability to accept long term investments given the additional benefits a regeneration scheme can help to support.”
Councillor Graham Turner, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “I am genuinely excited and proud that we have taken a dilapidated building and are about to turn it into something that our residents will be proud of.
“The George Hotel was once the jewel in Huddersfield’s crown, and I am determined to see it restored to its rightful position in the town. We have ambitious plans for Huddersfield town centre, plans that will attract visitors from near and far. Having a quality hotel close to travel connections will only add to the appeal of a revitalised, vibrant destination.
“Along with the Cultural Heart and the overall Huddersfield Blueprint, we are taking action to stop the decline of the town. High streets up and down the country have to look for ways to keep town centres alive, what we are doing in Huddersfield could set a great example to many.
“Kirklees is open for business and we will continue to invest in and regenerate our much loved historic buildings.”