The Park Hotel Today
For some years the Park Hotel in Shirley Road has been empty and boarded up, with local residents uncertain about the future of the building. Owners, Orchard Homes have been unable to reopen it as a pub and possible options for the site have included pulling it down and building a block of modern flats or a convenience store with flats above. Neither option is popular with local residents, nor is leaving the building empty, as it has become a bit of an eyesore. There was also a fire recently and there are concerns that it may happen again.
Residents and Councillors have met with directors from Orchard Homes on two occasions to see if an agreement could be reached about how the site might be redeveloped. The most popular choice was to see the building retained and converted to residential use and last week Orchard Homes presented some architects plans to the Freemantle Triangle Residents Association. The plans would see the outer walls and roof of the building retained and a second floor added to the single story part of the building fronting onto Shirley Road.
As a local councillor I often find myself opposing inappropriate planning applications. It is a rare but welcome thing to have a developer making the effort not just to engage with the local community but also to come up with a design that is sympathetic to the neighbourhood and its heritage.
My grandfather used to drink in the Park Hotel in the 1950s and 60s. It was managed for a while by my former colleague on the Council, Matthew Dean and I have spent many an evening there over the years. including helping clean it out when Matt first moved in. I think it would be a dreadful shame to see it bulldozed and I am very encouraged by the plans put forward by Orchard Homes.
I found this old advert for the Park Hotel in a Southampton football programme from August 1963. It shows the old organ and the bar. I hope that the building can be saved and I will be supporting Orchard Homes' planning application when it is submitted.
The Park Hotel 50 years ago (click to enlarge)
UPDATE: Orchard Homes have now submitted their planning application which can be seen here.