Permission granted for Hobson House conversion

Cambridge City Council has granted permission for the conversion of a historic former police and fire station into a 57-key all-suite boutique hotel and tearoom designed by Dexter Moren Associates for client Henley.

Operating under the Rogue City Hotels brand, the hotel will see key features of the Grade II-Listed Hobson House preserved, restored and opened up to the public for the first time in decades. Built in 1901 and located on St Andrew’s Street, the property sits on a site associated with the charity founded by Thomas Hobson, the 17th century Cambridge philanthropist. Over the years, the building has functioned as a workhouse, a gaol for the university, a police and fire station and, more recently, as council offices.

DMA’s design seeks to enhance and reveal significant architectural features of the building lost or hidden through previous alterations. Respecting the original spaces without significant alteration whilst weaving newbuild elements into the existing fabric, the plan provides a visual lift to the character of Downing Place to the rear. The firm has also proposed that the covered courtyard – the former Drill Yard – will be enclosed to become a destination tearoom and eatery.

“Hobson House is an architectural gem located in Cambridge’s historic city centre, with many fantastic original features local people may be unaware of,” says DMA Partner Paul Wells. “Sadly, since its conversion to office use in the 1960s the building has suffered from chronic under-investment and its many of its original features have been denied the care they deserve. Now that our hotel proposal has been granted permission, Henley can give the building a new lease of life, not only helping to serve the needs of the city’s many visitors, but also preserving and restoring Hobson House for the local residents to embrace and be truly proud of.”

DMA’s proposals will see the original entrance hall and principal stone staircase retained and repaired alongside the first-floor Chief Constable’s Office which will also be restored with the existing timber panelling and ceiling pattern fully repaired. The building’s original stained-glass windows, ceiling plasterwork and wood panelling will be restored throughout. The exterior façade on St Andrew’s Street, meanwhile, will be cleaned using methods appropriately sensitive to the stone exterior, with the intention to activate and open the frontage and welcome visitors into the site. The tearoom at the core of the building will occupy the double height former drill yard, allowing the public to access an otherwise locked part of the building.

Nassar Khalil, Director of Hotels and Leisure at Henley and CEO of Rogue City Hotels, comments: “We are extremely excited to have secured planning consent for our next hotel in the heart of one of the UK’s most enchanting cities. As with all our hotels, our focus is to provide guests with design led luxury accommodation, exceptional service, comfort and convenience, and curate a special relationship with the local area. These summed up the key attributes of a Rogue City Hotel.”