Plans to convert a former hotel into private apartments with a bar and restaurant have been approved.

Proposals, submitted to North Yorkshire Council by Fleece Holdings Ltd, involved listed building consent to change the use of the hotel to create a commercial bar/restaurant to the ground floor and private market residential apartments to the first and second floors, at The Fleece Hotel, Victoria Road, Richmond.

The plans were approved on May 2 - paving the way for the conversion of The Fleece, which permanently closed last year.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The Fleece in RichmondThe Fleece in Richmond (Image: THE FLEECE)

The venue has endured an unsettled period over the last few years, having reopened in May 2019 after gaining planning permission in March 2016 to restore the building to create a hotel with associated restaurants and rooms, private apartments and three mews houses.

Various planning applications have been submitted and changes made to enhance the building with the aim of making it a viable business whilst being sympathetic to the building's heritage.

In July 2023 the hotel closed due to increased running costs and operational difficulties. Before this closure, the business was on the market for 18 months but no purchaser was found.

In a statement announcing its closure in July 2023, owner Chris Miles criticised the Government's business tax policy, which he described as "an incredible burden" for organisations like The Fleece. 

Darlington and Stockton Times: The Fleece Hotel has had an unsettled last number of yearsThe Fleece Hotel has had an unsettled last number of years (Image: THE FLEECE)

He said: "We do not need a handout, but we must be able to keep more of the money that we generate. Since opening in May 2019, in addition to the increasing costs we have had to contend with, The Fleece has paid c£350k to HMRC in VAT and a further £100k in Employer National Insurance and Business Rates. 

"It is an enormous burden for a fifth of our income to be taken in VAT in addition to the other taxes we pay before any profit is made. We simply do not have the luxury of passing the 20 per cent VAT cost onto our customer and this decimates our profit margins.

"To be absolutely clear, The Fleece has not gone bust. I am choosing to close at this time to ensure that we can do it on our terms and in an orderly way. All our employees, suppliers, and other creditors will be paid on time and in full as they always have been."

Now that the plans have been approved, the ground floor will have two internal walls partially removed to make way for a function room, as well as converting the nine first-floor en-suite hotel letting rooms into three two-bed apartments.

Currently, there are four en-suite letting rooms and one three-bed apartment to the second floor. The plans are to convert this into two one-bed apartments for private residential use.

The Fleece Hotel is a late 19th Century building, constructed in 1897 and designed by Architect George Gordon Hoskins.

Built as a hotel and public house, The Fleece is a large brick and terracotta structure within a setting of much simpler 18th-century buildings of local stone construction.

A Grade II listed building with a castellated gothic revival main façade, The Fleece is a landmark building in Richmond.