By Angela Frewin
London's landmark building St Pancras Chambers is to be returned to its original use as a railway hotel as the result of a £40m development plan.
The property will be turned into a 300-bedroom international de luxe Marriott hotel, topped by 60 loft apartments on the upper three floors. The work will be undertaken by the Chambers Group consortium, comprising Whitbread, the Manhattan Loft Corporation and BBA Lynton, the property arm of airport group BAA.
The scheme was approved by the Grade I-listed property's custodian, London & Continental Railways (LCR), which runs Eurostar UK and is responsible for a new high-speed rail link between London and the Channel Tunnel.
The new hotel/apartment complex is expected to open in 2003, to coincide with the reopening of a greatly expanded St Pancras station that will, claims LCR, be one of the biggest transport interchanges in Europe.
The building, originally the Midland Grand Hotel, was built in the high Victorian Gothic style by architect Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1876, but closed its doors to the public in 1935. It served as offices until the 1980s, when it failed its fire certificate.
The hotel's exterior, renovated at a cost of £10m in the 1990s, will remain untouched, while an extension will be added at the rear and public rooms will be restored.