Camden’s rejection of underground hotel is ‘a victory for good sense and the small guys’

Camden Council’s planning committee has thrown out controversial plans for a windowless, underground hotel, to the joy of local residents and the Bloomsbury Association who campaigned against it.

Brutalist building.

Camden Council has rejected plans to create a windowless underground hotel in Great Russell Street..

The committee sitting in a chilly town hall — because the heating had failed — last Thursday (14 January) had to deal with a packed agenda.

Camden’s planning officers were recommending approval of the plans to convert an underground car park into a 166 room “pod” hotel.

Roger Wilson spoke to the members of the planning committee on behalf of the Bloomsbury Association. He emphasised the the residential community in the vicinity of the proposed underground hotel was already under stress from previous Council decisions to allow development, and that the present situation was already bad, so don’t make it any worse.

He also pointed out that the proposed section 106 agreement including the draft hotel management plan was worthless and inoperative because it was unenforceable; and that planning conditions designed to protect residential amenity were also unenforceable, lumbering the Council with a life-time of monitoring and control regime.

Applicants Criterion Capital argued that it was a case of cars versus jobs.

There was laughter when Councillor Stark said that rooms without windows were not acceptable and that this was filling a perceived gap in the market for a “minus five star hotel”. Embarrassingly, it was revealed that even the former town hall annex will have windowless rooms when it is converted to a hotel.

Councillor Vincent, shivering with cold, argued strongly in support of a “community under stress” and made a plea for residents whose amenity was already under threat from the noise and disturbance from trucks congesting Bedford Avenue and Adeline Place.

Councillors voted to refuse the application by five votes to three with one abstention.

Local resident Chris Gardiner said: “We are up against a large company here with financial muscle. The rejection on Thursday is a victory for good sense and the small guys.”

The outcome of the application has been widely reported on BBC TV News, in the Evening Standard, Planning in London, and in the Camden New Journal.

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