Iconic Banbury landmark could become the destination of choice

Sapa Profiles building, Banbury as it is today
Sapa Profiles building, Banbury as it is today

One of Banbury’s most historic buildings could be given a new lease of life if ambitious plans are approved.

The former office building for the Northern Aluminium Company, later Alcan, on the Southam Road has lain vacant since 2008 but plans submitted by Honeydew Developments Ltd propose converting it into a destination hotel and spa.

A photomontage of the proposed redevelopment of the Alcan/SAPA office building on Banbury's Southan Rd NNL-180515-123344001

A photomontage of the proposed redevelopment of the Alcan/SAPA office building on Banbury's Southan Rd NNL-180515-123344001

Designed in 1936 by renowned Oxford-based architect, Gilbert Gardner, the Grade II listed office building features art deco design both inside and out along with the extensive use of aluminium features, in particular its window frames and the spiral staircase just inside the front entrance.

Part of the plans also include the preservation of the factory gates. These were designed and installed in 1931 and mark the last remaining feature of the original factory.

Along with its art-deco design and innovative use of aluminium, the building is the last remnant of the company that was instrumental in the war efforts.

In the Second World War the factory played a critical role in the production of planes such as the Spitfire. At the height of production the plant employed some 3,000 people.

An photomontage of the proposed redevelopment of the former SAPA office building on Banbury's Southam Road NNL-180515-123047001

An photomontage of the proposed redevelopment of the former SAPA office building on Banbury's Southam Road NNL-180515-123047001

Now plans have been submitted for a change of use incorporating the existing Grade II listed features in addition to an extension upwards and the construction of two annexe buildings.

The existing office building will be converted into an 80 bedroom hotel which will be achieved by increasing the current two to four storeys.

Also in the main building will be a banqueting suite, administrative spaces and a link to the health spa.

Two annexes are in the plans that will house an additional conference/banqueting suite and a cafe and restaurant.

The second annexe will contain a health spa complete with a pool, which partially extends outside of the health spa annexe. Both annexes will be linked to the main hotel via glass covered walkways.

Car parking for about 70 plus cars, including four disabled parking spaces and a coach pick-up/drop-off point, is also featured in the redevelopment of the land.

The existing Grade II listed Gate Lodge building, also dating from the 1930s, lies outside the planned development.

The proposed plans were discussed at the last Banbury Town Council planning committee meeting and were met with much enthusiasm.

The committee had discussed the proposal before Christmas but minor changes to the landscape design, materials used, parking and access had been made.

Chairman Cllr Tony Ilott, said: “We thought this was a good idea and a good use of the building and I can’t think of many uses for the building where they would want to keep the original frontage. It seems to tick all the boxes.”