Andrew Brownsword Hotels has announced that the site of The Royal Clarence Hotel is to be put up for sale.
Following extensive damage to the property caused by the fire of 28 October 2016, which started in a neighbouring building but spread throughout The Royal Clarence, significant works have been completed to protect and restore the site’s historic fabric, and as enabling works are concluded it will now be offered for sale.
Owner Andrew Brownsword said it was a ‘heart breaking decision to make’ and he wished to sell the site to a group that operates a ‘different business model to ours’.
He added that a sale will enable the rebuild happen ‘quickly and viably’.
Andrew Brownsword comments: “We are deeply saddened to announce the intended sale of the site of The Royal Clarence Hotel, but after many months of work and following extensive investment made, we have explored every avenue and have come to the conclusion that our group is unable to deliver a new hotel, as we had so hoped to do.
“We stand with the people of Exeter that this is such an important area of the city and so have made the very difficult decision that it is now time to seek new owners for the site, in order that the rebuild can progress.”
He adds: “The extensive recovery and preparation work that has been completed at the site means it now offers an excellent opportunity for the next stage of development and I have had to concede that this will be realised by others.
“It was always my vision to deliver a new hotel at the level of luxury and quality as others within our group, however, the financial and resource investment made in the demolition, historic restoration and enabling works has been significant and this has meant that it is regretfully unviable for us to develop the level of hotel that we had envisaged.
“This has been a heart-breaking decision for us to take, but, alongside the residents of Exeter, we want to see this corner of Cathedral Yard resorted to its former glory.
“We believe that selling the site now to a group that operates to a different business model to ours, will enable them to start building, unencumbered by all of the challenges and costs already overcome by us, and is the only way we can conclude to make the rebuild happen quickly and viably.
“We thank all the people of Exeter for the patience and support that we have been shown since the night of the fire.”
Work undertaken at the site since the fire has included initial demolition of damaged structures, followed by excavation and archaeological work to save as many historic features of the Grade-II listed building as possible.
Extensive ground works have been completed to strengthen the foundations of the site in order to maintain and restore the remaining historic fabric.
Above ground masonry and structural repairs have also been completed to surviving historic fabric allowing for integration in the reconstruction of the building.
Planning permissions are also granted for the rebuild.
The Royal Clarence Hotel, which was built in 1769, is one of England’s oldest hotels.