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Work begins on new hotel at Westminster Bridge roundabout

Construction work begins this week on the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel on the former County Hall annexe site on the South Bank.

Park Plaza Westminster Bridge
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge
County Hall annexe demolition
Work to demolish the old County Hall annexe began in May 2006.

It is just over a year since demolition work began at the infamous Island Block – formerly part of the Greater London Council's County Hall HQ and once voted 11th ugliest building in Britain – at the southern end of Westminster Bridge.

It is to be replaced by the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel. Originally proposed as a 743-room hotel, the size of the proposed building was later increased to 913 rooms and then 953 rooms.

Now Lambeth's Planning Applications Committee will on Wednesday consider the latest application for a 16-storey 1,037-room hotel designed by BUJ Architects and Uri Blumenthal.

"For us a lot of factors came together to mean that this area was right; the demand generated by the tourism industry and the international interest in the South Bank as a destination within London," says Alistair Watts, Park Plaza's vice president for marketing.

With capacity for up to 1,250 delegate the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge will be one of London's largest conference and event venues on a par with the Grosvenor House Hotel and the Hilton Metropol.

"The success of the conference space at the Riverbank Park Plaza [on Albert Embankment] far exceeded expectations, so as a hotel operator we recommended to the developers they go for an increased conference space," says Alistair Watts.

"We know that there's huge demand out there for a new, large-scale international conference venue ... we're already getting people asking 'Can we book for 2012, 2013, 2014' and ahead."

Park Plaza hopes to open the hotel in 2010. The firm expects to employ between 600 and 800 people at the hotel in both full-time and part-time positions.

Next to the roundabout is the 400-room Park Plaza County Hall which opens this October on Addington Street. Approximately 150 jobs will be created at that hotel.

Island Block history on show

Also this week the Island Block is the subject of an exhibition at the Launch Pad Gallery in the Building Centre in Store Street.

The installation called Island Block – A Failed Landmark will incorporate an interactive architectural model, a laser sculpture, large scale drawings, plans and documents and a video piece.

The exhibition continues until Saturday 30 June.

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