New owners of former Derry bank launch boutique hotel bid

The Bank of Ireland branch on the corner of Derry's Strand Road and Sackville Street, which could be turned into a new boutique hotel.

THE former Bank of Ireland building on Derry’s Strand Road could soon return to life as a boutique hotel under plans revealed by its new owners.

Short.Visits Ltd, a Derry-based hotel company acquired the former bank last year. It has now lodged a planning application in a bid to convert it into a 38-bedroom hotel.

The developer, which is proposing a new street level bar and restaurant, has also sought permission to construct a new fourth floor rooftop extension to accommodate additional rooms.

The three-storey building on the corner of Strand Road and Sackville Street served as a bank for almost a century, until its closure in October 2021.

It was one of 15 northern branches closed by Bank of Ireland during a major cull of its physical network during 2021.

The Strand Road branch was subsequently placed on the market with a guide price of £500,000.

Described as the last classically inspired banking hall left in the city, and considered one of the best examples of its time, it was built for The National Bank in 1927/28 to designs by Derry architect James Patrick McGrath.

But the neo-Georgian building suffered significant damage from a 1979 bomb, and a new building was effectively constructed behind the listed Portland Limestone façade. The work, completed in 1986 saw the bank rebuilt internally and new redbrick bays added on both the Strand Road and Sackville Street sides.

Set up in 2020 by Laurence McDaid, John McDaid, Liam McGilloway and Mark Doherty, Short.Visits has a registered company address at Elagh Business Park on the Buncrana Road.

Its plans for the former bank involve the construction of another floor on top in order to achieve 38 bedrooms.

The proposal suggests the external cladding will have a metallic finish.

Architectural drawing showing how the additional floor would look on the building.

In a report supporting its application, Short.Visits cited the potential economic and tourism benefits of the new hotel venture.

“With the peace process and agreement since 1998, the tourism sector in Northern Ireland as a whole and in particular Derry, has been growing year on year.

“The sector has resulted in the creation of job opportunities in the tourism industry in the city.”

The developer also raised the successful examples in Derry City of listed buildings being converted into successful boutique hotels, including Bishops Gate and the Shipquay Hotel.