The doors have been thrown open at Barrow’s Holiday Inn Express, giving in-Cumbria a sneak preview of the much-anticipated £11 million development.

Situated on the site of the former Barrow police station, the new hotel contains four floors, 127 bedrooms – designed in line with Holiday Inn Express’ Next Generation hotel model – along with two meeting rooms and a restaurant and bar area.

The hotel is due to throw open its doors in December – significantly increasing the number of bedrooms in the town to service business travellers, primarily linked to the significant programme of work at BAE Systems Submarines, along with leisure visitors.

Experienced hotelier Mark Winter was handpicked to become general manager at the hotel, to oversee its launch.

He said: “The hotel is in the perfect location within the town and will really add to the local accommodation and restaurant offering.

“We really want the hotel to become a part of the community.

“We want people to come in for teas, coffees and meals so it becomes a hub of the community.”

The hotel will also be operated by RBH, the UK’s leading independent hotel management company, and developed by Ashall Projects Ltd.

Its managing director, Mark Ashall, said: “The great thing about this is you will have an international branding quality of hotel.

“It’s comfortable, has good access, free breakfast and is a great central location for people to meet.

“The restaurant unit can be used by non-guests too which will work well as a stand-alone restaurant.”

The development has been supported by Furness Economic Development Forum (FEDF), which has worked to maximise opportunities for local contractors to aid its construction, and ensure roles at the hotel are filled locally.

FEDF has said it hopes the hotel will encourage further development in the Market Street and Duke Street areas of the town – supporting the town’s regeneration as well as its already burgeoning business tourism trade.

FEDF board member and Barrow and Furness MP, John Woodock, said: “The Holiday Inn Express has arisen fairly quickly from the rubble of the old police station and this investment is directly linked to our successful campaign that pressed for the Dreadnought submarine programme to go ahead at the shipyard.

“The Holiday Inn will cater for submarine construction personnel who are needed to help deliver Dreadnought, but it will also provide an upmarket leisure hotel in the centre of Barrow and it is a great new option for holidaymakers looking to explore Furness and The Lakes.”

Momentum continues to gather behind a push for Barrow and the wider Furness area to secure a bigger slice of Cumbria’s tourism economy.

A new tourism forum is being established to help develop the region’s proposition and market it to visitors around the UK and overseas.

Businesses, councils, organisations and academic institutions gathered earlier this year to plot a way forward for Furness to increase the number of visitors, and their resultant spend by buildings on the area’s natural beauty and cultural heritage.

It is part of a county-wide push to attract and disperse visitors from the increasingly popular honeypot areas of the Lake District to lesser known destinations, such as Furness and Copeland.