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£12m plan to reopen Fleece Hotel and Monk's Retreat bar

By citizenmike  |  Posted: April 07, 2014

  • The Fleece Hotel today

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FIVE hundred years after it first opened, a plan to turn the Fleece Hotel into a hotel, boutique shops and a cafe-bar has emerged.

The project, which will cost up to £12million, would transform the historic, abandoned Westgate Street site.

YMCA want to open a backpacker’s hotel. They would run the medieval undercroft, known as the Monk’s Retreat, as a cafe-bar once again.

The site would also feature a host of specialist shops, playing up to Westgate Street’s independent look and feel.

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It will be a boon for the ailing building after its famous past. It opened in 1497 as one of the three ‘Great Inns’ to cater for pilgrims who came to Gloucester to visit the tomb of King Edward II. The Monk’s Retreat was part of a 12th century Benedictine monastery and was once described as ‘the most curious bar in England’.

The YMCA’s Cheltenham and Gloucester branch are awaiting to hear if their bid for funds to pull together a comprehensive plan has been successful or not. The announcement is thought to be ‘imminent’, although YMCA’s county branch chief executive David Wallace was on annual leave yesterday and unavailable for comment.

He previously said: “We have come up with a concept to transform the whole site. It would be a great place where tourists could come to stay in the heart of Gloucester for the night. They will then in turn spend money in the city.

“Our creative and dynamic plan would bring the area to life again.”

Interest in developing the site has come from other firms too, but council leader Paul James admitted they were ‘conditional’ and many would have to work on a joint initiative to be able to fund the Grade-I listed building’s restoration.

Mr James said: “I know some people are a bit sniffy about the YMCA but they have changed a lot in 30 years and some of them are very smart. This could do a lot for Westgate Street and the city.”

It comes as a plan to renovate six historic Westgate Street properties has been announced by Gloucester City Council. The work will be partly funded by a council grants scheme.

A former Santander branch, the Bookends bookstore and Fix Fones repair shop, which are all currently empty, will receive improvements. An empty unit next to the Crow’s Nest cafe and the shop currently occupied by Headmaster’s Barbers also have renovations in the pipeline.

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  • Rob_quedgeley  |  April 08 2014, 9:42AM

    This is a great idea, getting these historic buildings back into regular use can only benefit the city. Hope the funding is approved.

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  • jas37  |  April 07 2014, 9:52PM

    Excellent idea, can't happen soon enough. Perhaps the Council will also do something about the signs in Westgate Street (by the Cathedral) that divert visitors down a back-alley to the Docks and Quays instead of through the Gate Streets.

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  • Richardburton  |  April 07 2014, 8:42PM

    I always thought Gloucester needed rooms for backbackers to stay and it's central as well this will be a winner. I never understood why the council couldn't do this type of thing years ago.

  • tomvonforest  |  April 07 2014, 4:19PM

    Bit of a shame that it's taken over 10 years to decide to do something with this after effectively evicting the previous owner, Cedric. The council wanted to pursue the Blackfriar's regeneration scheme, and when the previous owner didn't want to sell up, he had a random electrical inspection turn up to tell him he needed the whole place re-wired - at an estimated cost of £120k. No wonder he relented and sold the hotel to the faceless Southern Developments company that then let the place rot for 10 years..