Liverpool based hotel developer has recently announced interest in redeveloping a derelict Denbigh hospital, their second Welsh hotel.
After having been left abandoned for over two decades and repeatedly targeted by arsonists, Signature Living hope to save and restore this stunning building.
There are hopes that the new Welsh hotel could be themed around its history as a Victorian asylum, giving it an edge over other hotels in the area.
Signature Living director Lawrence Kenwright has expressed that the site could draw on the building’s former use and have a ghostly theme: “It will have a slight edgy feeling about it. It’s not going to be brazen, but you have to have it reflect what it was, you have to contour to the DNA of the building.
“I believe firmly that this building should not be knocked down, what happens there needs to reflect the building and its history. A hotel is better than a museum for that because people can actually stay there and experience it.”
This will be the second hotel Signature Living have developed in Wales, after the outstanding Exchange Hotel in Cardiff, which is housed in the former Coal Exchange building.
Signature Living has specialised on identifying heritage buildings whose futures are uncertain, redeveloping them and preserving their history.
“I’ve learned how to keep the structures alive without changing the infrastructures. Big brand hotels will come in and want to make the rooms exactly the same size to keep to their brand standards, but we come along and say we have to work to the fabric of the building,” Lawrence said.
Recently, Denbigh hospital was victim to yet another fire, making it even more important to save this grand building. But in its current state, plenty of time and money will have to be spent before it can be decided if any project is truly viable.
Lawrence commented: “Denbigh hospital has not had a survey and that will cost between £50,000 to £100,00 to understand what we are actually looking at.
“Then you’d need an asbestos survey on top of that. No-one is going to spend that unless they’ve got ownership.”
Currently the building belongs to a company based in the British Virgin islands, Freemont (Denbigh) Ltd, and the council is in the process of trying to see through a Compulsory Purchase Order to take back control of the site.
In 2016, planning permission was granted for the Princes Regeneration Trust to transform the derelict building into 34 apartments, 200 homes and 1,114 square metres of business units in the grounds as part of an £11m scheme.
Lawrence Kenwright’s scheme is understood to have joined the Princes Regeneration Trust project on the shortlist being considered by council chiefs.
If successful, Signature Living’s plans will create around 400 jobs, with 250 during the build process, and a ‘training centre of excellence’ for the hospitality industry creating around 100 further roles.
However, before anything goes ahead, Signature Living will get public feedback on the ideas before committing to the Welsh hotel.
Lawrence commented: “We are going to have at least two open days where I will present and talk about it and get people’s ideas about what they think should be the future of the building. We will take into account what people think.”
“We plan to create interest and intrigue with what we do. If people are up for it and excited by it, then this will be the place to come to from all over the UK. I think it’s the most exciting project we’ve ever done.”
Signature Living have already successfully saved and developed countless hotels around the country. The company’s flagship hotel, 30 James Street, close to Liverpool’s waterfront, is in the building that was once the headquarters of the White Star Line, the shipping firm that owned the Titanic.
Plus, the previously mentioned Exchange Hotel in Cardiff is fast becoming one of the best hotels in the city.
We can’t wait to see how the plans unfold for Denbigh hospital, check our pages for updates and news on Signature Living’s plans for a second Welsh hotel.