‘BUSINESS as usual’ – that is the message from Coombe Abbey Hotel after the Observer broke the news that Coventry City Council is is set to buy the leasehold of the venue from No Ordinary Hotels.
The local authority – which already owns the freehold to the Brinklow-based 119-bedroom, Grade I-listed property and its estate – plans to use millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to take over the leasehold from businessman Gordon Bear.
Ron Terry, general manager of Coombe Abbey, said his team would continue to deliver the service that guests and clients have come to expect.
He said: “We want to reassure our clients and customers that nothing is set to change from the purchase.”
“Coombe Abbey is viewed as a sound investment by Coventry City Council and they are incredibly positive about the future of the venue.
“The tremendous success of Coombe Abbey over recent years has led to the council deciding to take over the hotel.”
He said current owners and staff would ensure the venue would provide an excellent return on the council’s investment, which would be used to fund further spending within Coventry.
The council’s controversial plan is to behind-closed-doors invest up to £11million under ‘Project CAP’.
It comes after the council four years ago bought out the then struggling four-star hotel’s £6.5million bank loan.
The council previously owned the Grade 1-listed hotel – originally a 12th century abbey. It was considered a drain on council resources before a public-private partnership took over in the 1990s.
Councillors privately approved the deal earlier this month, and say details will be released when the deal is formally signed later this month, with the money coming from council reserves.
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Labour cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, refused to confirm the commercially sensitive price.
He said it was a good investment, and expects a return of nearly 10 per cent per annum.
“The owner wants to retire. He wanted us to buy it,” he added. “It won’t be run by the council but we will oversee it in terms of a shareholders’ panel (as 100 per cent shareholder).
“We believe it’s the best way to get revenue into the council for the local authority to spend on services. It will also protect our heritage and culture.”
Coombe Abbey Hotel offers weddings, conferences and banqueting just outside Coventry at Brinklow Road, Binley, and is run by Coombe Abbey Park Ltd for No Ordinary Hotels group.