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Transformation of Boswells building into luxury hotel gets go-ahead

Transformation of Boswells building into luxury hotel gets go-ahead
CGI of the transformation of Boswells building into luxury hotel which got the go-ahead.

Oxford's iconic Boswells store building is on course to become a new 4-star luxury hotel as developers receive planning permission.

Proposals by property developer Reef Group for the transformation of the Boswells building in Broad Street into a four-star boutique hotel have taken a step closer. Oxford City Council's west area planning committee gave the plans the go-ahead on Monday.

Boswell and Co have had a presence in Oxford since 1738, but the store closed after the first lockdown last year. Reef Group revealed proposals to transform the building into 4-star boutique hotel shortly afterwards.

The hotel will have 101 hotel rooms, a basement gym, a restaurant and bar open to walk-in customers, and a new rooftop terrace.

Reef Group director Will Rohleder told the planning committee the new rooftop terrace would "allow guests to enjoy Oxford's landmarks and open up views to the historic skyline".

Boswell & Co Department Store Oxford
The Boswell & Co Department Store in Oxford until 2020

In her remarks, Committee member councillor Louise Upton said the plans were "exactly the sort of development we need to keep our city centre alive".

It will also include a hot desk office space, which is expected to see a rise in demand post-Covid due to an increase in the number of people working from home.

Councillor Liz Wade raised concerns about the height of the new fifth-floor extension of the building, where the rooftop terrace will be built, as its height was above the Carfax Datum - a height limit to protect views of the historic city centre.

But a council report said the new features would not detract from "key views" of Oxford at either the ground level or the roof.

Oxford City Council owns the freehold of 1-5 Broad Street, and the Reef Group has negotiated to take over the lease from Boswells. It will also take over the Boswells building in Cornmarket Street.

The Boswells signs at entrances at both buildings will be kept according to proposals on the hotel’s website

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