Oxford's Boswells department store to be turned into hotel post Covid-19


Boswells department store before closure in Oxford (Courtesy: The Oxford Magazine)

Future Cities Forum has been following the fate of Britain's traditional department stores, which have been closing and presenting a concern for the future health of the high street.

We have reported on Exeter's House of Fraser store which is being developed by Prydis as a hotel with roof top bar overlooking the Norman cathedral. Now Boswells in Oxford which closed in 2019 after nearly 300 years of business, will become a boutique hotel.

Public consultation in July will discuss the planning application for the new 'Store Hotel' to be potentially developed by Reef Group.

Operating under the same family since 1738, it was one of the largest independently- run department stores in Britain. Respecting the heritage of the site will be uppermost in the council's mind, but Cornmarket has been improvements recently with MICA Architects designing a new mixed-use wing for Jesus College, several doorsteps away.

Preserving the famous shop fronts are part of Reef Group's plans and that may be welcome considering the infill 1960's buildings that have destroyed the look of this city's medieval quarter.

In London, Queen Mary University has taken over the Dept W building (below), which is a successful renovation and re-purposing of the well-known Wickhams department store in the Mile End Road Road by Schroders Real Estate Fund.

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