New plans have been lodged to extend an Aberdeen hotel by transforming a former private school.
It was revealed in November last year that Graham and Gillian Wood, who own the Chester Hotel on Queen’s Road, had purchased the Hamilton School buildings, which have lain vacant for the past four years.
The hotel has submitted an application to Aberdeen City Council to provide an additional 22 guest rooms on the site, in addition to its existing 50 bedrooms, and the hotel’s bar area will also double in size.
At the time of buying the site, it had planning permission for an extension to provide 90 bedrooms in total but the new plans seek permission to build a smaller extension which the business believes to be more in keeping with the character of the Category B listed buildings.
Stephen Gow, general manager at The Chester Hotel, said: “We’re seeking to replace what we considered to be a disproportionately sized extension for the footprint of the site with a minimal extension to the original building.
“The plans are sympathetic to the stature and scale of buildings in Queen’s Road and will, with minimal intervention, knit the fabric of the existing Chester Hotel into the new properties.
“We’re sympathetic to the architectural integrity of all of our Chester properties and have a track record of restoring listed buildings considerately, retaining their character and providing our guests, both here in Aberdeen and in Edinburgh, with a luxurious experience.
“By removing some inappropriate building additions, which we believe are out of scale with the buildings at 55 – 57 Queen’s Road, we’ll hugely reduce what was the proposed developed area of the site.
“Our new plans will remain sheltered in the existing footprint and will be in keeping with our West End location.
“We have confidence in the market in Aberdeen and remain positive that our business will continue to grow.
“This major investment cements our position as one of the city’s – and Scotland’s – leading independent hotels.”
The owners previously said they were looking at a “number of options” for the West End site.
The new plans will see the demolition of an existing large extension, which formerly housed the nursery of the Hamilton School, which will be replaced by a new addition with a footprint of 14m by 4m.
This will form part of the new access link to the existing Chester Hotel and will also be used as part of an extended bar area.
The design statement added: “This element will serve as part of a social hub for the new guest areas, and will use a similar architectural vocabulary to the formerly extended rear areas to the adjacent Chester Hotel – in particular The Granite Suite conference and wedding facility.
“Smooth light-coloured render will be used for lower storey which shelters a small external terrace, with dark granite for the upper floor.
“The part-glazed roof will admit light to the internal ‘terrace’ area.
“This extension while deliberately modest in scale, will greatly improve the links between the existing villas and also provide a new sun-filled south-facing bar space.”
Hamilton School was forced to shut its doors in 2014 when the Scottish Government and Care Inspectorate moved to shut it down amid safety concerns.
In July last year Status Properties Limited submitted plans to convert the former B-listed school building into a hotel and restaurant complex, attracting objections from angry West End residents.
The Queens Cross and Harlaw Community Council objected to the move, saying it would result in conflict with the amenity of the householders, but the application was later approved by councillors although not pursued.
The hotel currently comprises a fine dining restaurant, lounge bar, spa and 50 bedrooms and the planned development would represent a significant expansion.