Multi-million pound plan to turn former university HQ into luxury spa hotel

Multi-million pound plan to turn former university HQ into luxury spa hotel

OLD SPLENDOUR: Interior photos of The Old Shire Hall in Durham City, where plans are afoot for a hotel. Picture: ANDY LAMB (7811886)

OLD SPLENDOUR: Interior photos of The Old Shire Hall in Durham City, where plans are afoot for a hotel. Picture: ANDY LAMB (7811909)

OLD SPLENDOUR: Interior photos of The Old Shire Hall in Durham City, where plans are afoot for a hotel. Picture: ANDY LAMB (7811895)

OLD SPLENDOUR: Interior photos of The Old Shire Hall in Durham City, where plans are afoot for a hotel. Picture: ANDY LAMB (7811876)

OLD SPLENDOUR: Interior photos of The Old Shire Hall in Durham City, where plans are afoot for a hotel. Picture: ANDY LAMB (7811904)

OLD SPLENDOUR: Interior photos of The Old Shire Hall in Durham City, where plans are afoot for a hotel. Picture: ANDY LAMB (7811897)

Shaun Crawley, looks at his new acquisition, The Old Shire Hall in Durham City. Picture: ANDY LAMB (7811872)

First published in News
Last updated

AN HISTORIC former university headquarters could be converted into one of the region’s leading luxury hotels under multi-million pound plans revealed today (Thursday, July 3).

Businessman Shaun Crawley has bought Old Shire Hall, previously Durham University’s HQ, with a view to creating a 70-room boutique hotel to rival the best in the area.

He hopes the Grade II-listed Victoria treasure will be transformed with spa facilities, a fine restaurant, bars, 40 hotel rooms, a 30-room apart-hotel and plush functions rooms, creating a country house atmosphere at the heart of Durham City.

But Mr Crawley needs support to make the vision a reality and wants to hear from interested hotel operators and restaurateurs.

He would consider selling the building as it stands with planning permission, refurbishing it and selling it as ready to open or teaming up with a restaurateur to run the destination together.

“It’s a boutique hotel operator’s dream,” he said.

“It’s a country house in the middle of the city, offering the experience of a spa luxury break without having to go out into the country.”

Old Shire Hall was built in 1896 as the headquarters for Durham County Council, and extended in 1905.

The design was ahead of its time, with grand Art Deco-style staircases and corridors.

It has been empty since Durham University moved its HQ to the purpose-built Palatine Centre two years ago but it remains in a good condition, with the former council chamber very well preserved.

The University sold the Old Elvet building to the now-defunct regional development agency One North East in 2008 for £4.2m.

When the agency was wound up, ownership passed to the Homes and Communities Agency, which sold it to Mr Crawley in February.

Upmarket hotel chain Malmaison and Hotel du Vin has been repeatedly credited with an interest in the building, but Mr Crawley, who lives just a few yards away, said he had not been contacted since buying the building.

There had been, however, interest from elsewhere, he said, and he has held discussions with one potential buyer and one potential operator.

Mr Crawley has held extensive discussions with Durham County Council and hopes to submit a planning application for Old Shire Hall’s conversion later this month.

Comments (2)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

5:00pm Thu 3 Jul 14

Voice-of-reality says...

Which goes to show that if the University had more sense (and more of a sense of responsibility for its students) that OSH could have been turned into student accommodation as a College - rather than saddling residents of the City with more 'student ghetto' streets. Still, with 'shabby' going one can but hope for better management in the future - it could hardly be worse.
Which goes to show that if the University had more sense (and more of a sense of responsibility for its students) that OSH could have been turned into student accommodation as a College - rather than saddling residents of the City with more 'student ghetto' streets. Still, with 'shabby' going one can but hope for better management in the future - it could hardly be worse. Voice-of-reality
  • Score: -15

12:20am Fri 4 Jul 14

Nicholas_Till says...

“It’s a country house in the middle of the city, offering the experience of a spa luxury break without having to go out into the country.”

So's the place in The Gates shopping centre where you can get your feet nibbled by magic minnows. Probably a bit cheaper, too!
“It’s a country house in the middle of the city, offering the experience of a spa luxury break without having to go out into the country.” So's the place in The Gates shopping centre where you can get your feet nibbled by magic minnows. Probably a bit cheaper, too! Nicholas_Till
  • Score: -9

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree