Oakman Group has agreed a 35-year lease to redevelop the historic Batchwood Hall in St Albans, which it will operate as a restaurant, bar and wedding venue, with luxury hotel rooms.

Owned by St Albans City & District Council, the Hall is scenically surrounded by woodland and the Batchwood golf course, but has lain empty since the pandemic.

Oakman CEO Peter Borg-Neal said work to restore the Hall is scheduled to begin next year after the necessary planning permissions have been granted, with the venue likely to open for business in 2025.

Borg-Neal said: “We are delighted to have been selected by the Council to revive this important historic building. We are committed to making a multi-million-pound investment into the Hall’s redevelopment to create a beautiful space with a restaurant, bar and function room for the people of St Albans to come together to enjoy our hospitality in an outstanding setting. We also plan to establish the Hall as a premier local venue for weddings and other events and a top destination with luxury hotel rooms for those visiting and staying in the City.”

Oakman already operates the Beech House bar and restaurant in the St Albans centre.

It was chosen as the preferred operator after council officers visited The Woburn, a pub, restaurant and 48-room hotel in Woburn, Bedfordshire.

The council said Oakman’s involvement would help establish the Hall as a top staycation destination, praising the group as an “outstanding partner”.

Batchwood Hall was built in 1874 as a manor house for barrister, architect and horologist Edmund Beckett, the 1st Baron Grimthorpe, who co-designed the Big Ben clock.

The building and surrounding estate was acquired by the Council in 1935 and a municipal 18-hole golf course was created in the grounds.