The hotel plans involve a two-storey element with setbacks over Arnotts and a three-storey element with setbacks over Arnotts multi-storey carpark.

The proposal will mean the demolition and decommissioning of the top three levels of Arnotts multi-storey carpark, leading to 145 parking spaces being removed. Planning documents accompanying the plan state that Fitzwilliam Real Estate own the ‘air rights’ to Arnotts Store, allowing the firm to apply to build above the store.

Tom Phillips + Associates, the planning consultant for the hotel firm, have told city council that Ruby Hotels is the intended operator of the venture.

Síne Kelly, a member of Tom Phillips + Associates, has highlighted that Ruby Hotels are a Munich-based group “who host a contemporary, affordable form of luxury style of hospitality.” Ruby Hotels currently operates 15 establishments, while another 18 are under construction. She also pointed out Ruby Hotels “have ‘a lean luxury’ philosophy for streamlining their hotel layouts and space,” stating also that the partnership between the hotel operator and the real estate firm “has resulted in an enhancement of the hotel overall with all elements now sized accordingly to suit the operations of Ruby Hotels.”

She argued the proposed project will facilitate the growth of high-quality hotel development, with an experienced and dedicated operator whilst substantially improving the character of the area and bringing a partially empty building back into full use.

The green-light for construction comes after the Council refused planning permission to Fitzwilliam Real Estate for a 12-storey 159-unit build-to-rent scheme on the same site in January after the council clarified there’s a presumption against large-scale residential developments which comprise entirely of ‘Built to Rent’ units.

The firm had planning permission for a hotel at the site since 2018, but government restrictions prevented them from working on it “in a timely fashion,” requiring them to lodge another application.