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  1. ITV Report

Owners announce 'heart-breaking' decision to sell Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter after devastating fire

The building has been restored following a fire in 2016 which ripped through the hotel. Credit: The Devon & Exeter Institution

The owners of an historic hotel in Exeter destroyed by a huge fire in 2016 have announced the site is up for sale.

The Andrew Brownsword Hotels group say The Royal Clarence Hotel has undergone "significant" restoration work since the devastating fire.

Following the fire, owners committed to restoring the hotel to its former glory. Credit: Brownsword Hotels

Owner, Andrew Brownsword, said he is "deeply saddened" to announce plans for the sale but conceded his group is "unable to deliver a new hotel".

Mr Brownsword added the decision had been "heart-breaking" but said selling the site "is the only way".

We stand with the people of Exeter that this is such an important area of the city and so have made the very difficult decision that it is now time to seek new owners for the site, in order that the rebuild can progress. The extensive recovery and preparation work that has been completed at the site means it now offers an excellent opportunity for the next stage of development and I have had to concede that this will be realised by others.

It was always my vision to deliver a new hotel at the level of luxury and quality as others within our group, however, the financial and resource investment made in the demolition, historic restoration and enabling works has been significant and this has meant that it is regretfully unviable for us to develop the level of hotel that we had envisaged.

– Andrew Brownsword, Owner of the Royal Clarence
Aerials from the 2016 fire show the devastation of the building. Credit: ITV News West Country
Smoke from the fire in 2016 forced the temporary closure of the nearby Cathedral. Credit: ITV News West Country

Following the fire three years ago, Andrew Brownsword spoke to ITV News about his shock and horror saying: "We were devastated. Absolutely devastated".

In the same interview in 2016, Mr Brownsword said he would aim "to ensure the renovation creates a new history to be proud of".

The Andrew Brownsword Hotels group own 14 other properties around the UK. Credit: ITV News West Country

In July 2017, plans for the restoration were revealed - including efforts to include the original period features.

Read more about the Royal Clarence Hotel fire.

The hotel group says restoration work, including some demolition, has been carried out to save as many of features of the Grade II listed building as possible.

Andrew Brownsword Hotels owns 14 other properties around the UK.