ONE of Wigan’s biggest eyesores may become a luxury overnight stay.
The Evening Post can today confirm that Bristol-based Sanguine Hospitality – which operates celebrity chef Marco Pierre White’s francised hotel-restaurants – is bidding to turn the former police HQ into an upmarket, 60-bed hotel.
The ugly, 1970s concrete edifice in Harrogate Street has been boarded up for almost a decade, after GMP decamped to a new base near Robin Park.
Sanguine has a reputation for luxury, boutique-style hotels, and hopes to give the business community a new option of comfort for overnight stays in the town.
It has now formally lodged an application with the council, which is likely to be heard by development committee members early next year.
The site has been the focus of an ongoing development battle since being sold off by the force.
A recent scheme to build apartments became ensnared in a dispute about what percentage of affordable homes the project could sustain commercially.
Sanguine today declined to release artist’s impressions of just how it intends to transform the premises - dubbed the “Stazi” by locals after the grim windowless Secret Service headquarters in the former East Germany.
It also declined to comment ahead of the scheme’s being discussed by councillors in the coming weeks.
But rather than demolish and start and again, bosses are thought to be planning to completely re-clad the existing building to create a new look.
Rare and protected bats were long believed to have colonised the empty building.
But a survey undertaken by wildlife experts on behalf of the hotel group has now cleared the way for re-construction to take place, although it makes recommendations about external lighting so as not to affect the Daubenton’s water bats which use the river Douglas corridor immediately behind as a feeding habitat.
Site owner Goldcrest Properties is backing the application.
Chief Executive Officer Michael Collins believes that it could be a trigger for further redevelopment opportunities for the site if give the green light by the council.
He said: “We still own the site and have been negotiating with Sanguine Hospitality for some time over the future of the building.
“Contracts have been issued between us but have not yet been exchanged.
“They have made the application to the council on a unilateral basis and when they get development approval the deal between Sanguine and Goldcrest will proceed further.
“We are keen to see it succeed because it will bring many much-needed jobs to Wigan and we would see it as a catalyst for further development at the site and in that part of the town centre.”
Sanguine Hospitality was formed in 2006 and now has, it says, an investment portfolio worth more than £120m in the UK alone.
It operates a number of partnership brands, including the prestigious Double Tree by Hilton, Hampton by Hilton and Hotel Indigo hotels brands in Chester, Liverpool, Bristol and the capital.
Sanguine operates five Marco Pierre White restaurants - the nearest to Wigan is in Liverpool - on behalf of White, who became the first and youngest British chef to be awarded three Michelin stars.
It also operates a successful chain of spas and health clubs.