A LANDMARK building is set to be transformed into Portsmouth’s biggest hotel – kick-starting the regeneration of The Hard.
The News can reveal that Land Securities, owner of Gunwharf Quays, has reached a deal with budget hotel chain Travelodge to revamp Europa House, which was previously home to Pall Europe.
It was bought last year and is now set to be developed into a £10m, 200-bedroom hotel, subject to approval from city planners.
Land Securities aims to spend around £1m on the building’s car park alone, in the hope of bringing it up to the same standard as the award-winning underground facility at Gunwharf Quays.
When open, the hotel will employ around 50 people and city leaders have said, along with the imminent sale of the nearby Brunel House tower block, it could begin the rejuvenation of the area.
Gunwharf managing director Peter Emery said the appearance of roads and pavements could be improved to benefit pedestrians moving between the sites.
He said: ‘Gunwharf has proven to be a catalyst for regeneration in the area and that is what we are hoping for here.
‘We want to take an existing building and do something new with it, rather than just knocking it down, and I hope people will be happy with what we’ve come up with.
‘Portsmouth is woefully short of hotel accommodation. For example our Holiday Inn Express is at 94 per cent occupancy, so this will help solve that problem.’
Mr Emery added that any decision was still subject to a consultation with local residents, who are holding a meeting with Gunwharf representatives today.
Chief executive of the Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust Peter Goodship said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted with this news, which will be a significant milestone in the regeneration of The Hard.
‘This couldn’t be a better location – it will have the most fantastic views. And it will be a huge boost for our tourism economy and for the historic dockyard.’
The leader of Portsmouth City Council Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson added: ‘When the city council looked at finding something for the Victoria Baths site the people who offered the most money were budget hotel operators, so I’m not surprised this is what works financially.
‘The city also needs a four-star hotel, because when business people are here then it is something they look for. But Portsmouth is becoming a destination for a lot of people – and more choice is more jobs.’
Marriott Hotel is currently the biggest hotel in Portsmouth with 175 rooms.