A MULTI-MILLION pound plan has emerged to redevelop Worcester's historic old fire station - with hopes of a top boutique hotel being ditched.

A London-based developer has come forward with proposals for 22 apartments sitting above a ground floor containing either shops or a bar-restaurant facing Copenhagen Street.

The project will also include either offices or some other specialised use like a gym fronting Deansway, with the developer Ash Mill boasting an impressive track record of creating quality residential schemes in sensitive locations.

But your Worcester News can reveal how hopes of a classy hotel which could have catapulted the city up the tourism rankings have been abandoned after there was no interest in the site.

Back in 2013, once the fire service put the old HQ up for sale, Worcester City Council created a 'development brief' encouraging its use as a hotel.

But after being marketed for over a year by Halls Commercial no hotel offers were received, with a representative for the new owners now calling that option "unviable".

Despite the site's superb location it also struggled to sell, with Ash Mill eventually being approached to take it on.

Although the three-storey Copenhagen Street building is not listed, it spans 26,920 square foot and faces out towards the riverside with the Guildhall, Worcester Cathedral and Heart of Worcestershire College in the immediate vicinity.

A planning application has now been submitted to the city council for the development, which would come with 17 parking spaces.

The flats would be spread across floors one and two, aimed at what the developer calls "young professionals", with the ground floor being entirely commercial and dependent on what interest emerges.

The developer says the Copenhagen Street-facing section would either get shops or a restaurant/bar, but not both, while the strip fronting Deansway, seen by thousands of motorists every day will either become offices or an alternative commercial use.

The proposal for one of Worcester's best-know buildings has led to a mixed reaction.

Councillor Derek Prodger, chairman of the fire authority, said: "Worcester badly needs a good quality hotel and sadly this isn't the first time - we tried to get Hilton International to come to the city a few years ago but it didn't happen.

"When we decided to vacate it we had a meeting with the city council and Duncan Sharkey (the former managing director) said we could really do with a five-star hotel.

"But now that's not going to happen here, I warmly welcome this scenario - a mixed-use would benefit the city greatly."

The deputy Mayor of Worcester, Councillor Mike Whitehouse, said: "It's a shame, but I'm not entirely surprised - in this current climate people seem to want a return straightaway."

Adrian Field, from Worcester's Business Improvement District (BID), which represents city centre shops and businesses, said: "I do think in terms of linking the riverside to the High Street it'll do a lot more than a fire station would.

"The two are only 200 metres apart but many people who aren't familiar to Worcester might not realise - this'll create a good link east to west."

Planning consultant John Parmiter, who is advising Ash Mill on the project, said: "The old fire station is a prominent building in the city centre and its future

needs to be secured.

"The city council prepared a development brief in 2013 encouraging the site’s future as a hotel, however the building was marketed by Halls for over a year and no hotel offers were received so that option has proved to be unviable."

The building, built in 1939, was vacated in May when the fire service moved to its new purpose-built complex at Great Western Business Park, Tolladine.

Ash Mill is behind many quality mixed-use developments currently ongoing around the UK including 18 townhouses inside an old listed building in Warwick and similar projects in Bath, Devon and Salisbury.