Windowless hotel would ‘reflect badly on London’

Proposals for an underground hotel in a side street off Tottenham Court Road have been rejected by local residents and politicians, but planning officers will be recommending approval of the plans at tonight’s meeting at Camden Town Hall.

Brutalist building.

Concrete tomb. Criterion Capital want to create a 166 room hotel four and five floors underground.

Criterion Capital want to convert a car park at basement levels -4 and -5 to a 166 bedroom hotel on a site on the corner of Great Russell Street and Adeline Place. It would be the first 100 percent windowless hotel in central London.

The subterranean complex is described by Criterion Capital as filling a gap in the market for a simple, eco-friendly, design-led experience offering value for money. Criterion say they would not be applying for an entertainment or alcohol license and the proposed booking system would not allow more than three consecutive nights stay per guest. The hotel would not include any café, bar, pub nor restaurant uses. Guests are likely to be business travellers and tourists looking for very short term occupancy.

But the bunker hotel would be below the St Giles Hotel and next to several other existing hotels leading local residents and the Bloomsbury Association to complain that it would be an over-development of a single use on an already busy tourist destination, leading to a negative impact on the local environment.

Local residents are backed by several local businesses, landowner The Bedford Estates, and Bloomsbury councillors Rishi Madlani and Sabrina Frances who all wrote to object to the plans. The Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras Keir Starmer has also sent comments objecting to the proposals as did Andrew Dismore a Labour member of the Greater London Authority.

As the site is near the border with the City of Westminster, neighbouring ward councillor Jonathan Glanz also wrote in to comment on the plans saying he recognised the need for more and better hotel accommodation in Central London. But the Conservative councillor stated:

“I strongly believe that such accommodation must be of an appropriate standard and quality to reflect London’s position as an international global city.

“Underground rooms without natural light reliant on artificial lighting and ventilation does not meet such criteria and reflect badly on London,” he said.

Camden Council, Development Control Committee Thursday, 7pm 17 December 2015.

Update: Camden has postponed the decision on this planning application due to a busy agenda. The planning application is now due to be decided on Thursday 14 January 2016.

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