St Albans BHS to become hotel and restaurants

British Home Stores on St Peter's Street

British Home Stores on St Peter's Street - Credit: Archant

The long-empty BHS building in the heart of St Albans city centre is finally set for redevelopment.

BHS St Albans

BHS St Albans - Credit: Archant

The St Peter’s Street store closed in August 2016 following the liquidation of British Home Stores.

A subsequent Facebook petition called for it to be taken over by the John Lewis Partnership, but other suggested tenants included a Primark or Debenhams.

However a property and investment company is now consulting on plans to replace it with a 131-bed hotel, plus two restaurants on the ground floor.

Development director at Reef Group Will Rohleder said: “The proposed new hotel and restaurants will be an exciting addition to St Albans city centre and will provide an enhanced presence to St Peter’s Street and activity to Drovers Way by replacing the existing tired facades with high quality elevations.

“In addition, it will assist in facilitating future tourism as well as providing employment opportunities.

“I look forward to receiving the public’s views on our proposals.”

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The development includes significant improvements to the thoroughfare linking St Peter’s Street and Drovers Way, and would create 50 new jobs on opening.

Reef Group has completed, or is in the process of developing, other sites across the UK in Oxford city centre, Horsham town centre, Winchester, Camden, Acton, and Aldgate.

St Albans Civic Society’s Eric Roberts, who gave pre-consultation input, said: “We have given it the thumbs up, on the understanding the option is kept open to have the ground floor not just retained, but used for retail to keep the commercial frontage.

“It has been standing empty for nearly two years, and with the opening of the museum and gallery, and the city seems to want to make more of a go at being a tourist destination, it would be good to get people to stay out more.

“We cannot see who is going to move in there, and it’s a bit like a gap in your front teeth.

“But we did say we would prefer to see the ground floor stay as retail and not just used for eating and drinking if that were possible.

“However on principle we agreed with it. It’s about the confidence in St Albans’ future, and this could stimulate trade.

“The proof of the pudding will be in the detail.”

The public consultation will be held on Thursday January 4 between 2pm-6pm at Lower Hall, Trinity United Reformed Church, 1 Beaconsfield Road, St Albans AL1 3RD.