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Hotel overlooking school wins permission to expand

Residents fear new Holiday Inn block will tower over their gardens

31 October, 2019 — By Richard Osley

How the new block will look

A HOTEL overlooking a school in Swiss Cottage has won the right the expand despite concerns that guests will be able to stare into the playground and a new block of bedrooms will wreck views from residential gardens.

In a split decision on Camden’s planning committee, councillors voted to give the green light to Holiday Inn’s building plans for its “Express” hotel in Finchley Road, close to South Hampstead Junior School.

Officials said there are a series of examples where developments overlook playgrounds, including some which were built above schools or on the same site.

Opponents had lined up in the Town Hall chamber against the creation of a new six-storey rear extension which will add 51 more rooms.

Robert Jones, director of operations at South Hampstead, told the meeting on Thursday that staff and parents had “very high level concerns” over the hotel’s expansion.

He said: “The officer’s report acknowledges that there would be some overlooking and this isn’t acceptable or appropriate for safeguarding ­pur­poses.”

Mr Jones said the school should be ­consul­ted on obscuring the glazing and a noise survey. “We’ve also significant concerns about disruption to the education of the girls, particularly our nine and 10-year-olds, whose classes are at the rear of that building,” he added. Meanwhile, Sarah Watson, representing neighbours, said the new block of rooms would “tower over our gardens”.

And Marie Garside, who has lived nearby for 55 years, told the meeting: “I attended the planning meeting some 20 years ago when the committee rejected the plan to build this hotel, on the grounds of overdevelopment. Unfortunately this was reversed on appeal. Now they want to extend it further by 50-odd rooms. What is this if not overdevelopment?”

She added: “The hotel already disturbs the residents of Frognal Court 24/7.” The Heath and Hampstead Society and Netherhall Neighbourhood Asso­ciation were among further objectors.

But council officers had recommended the project was approved, and Adrian Hunter from Holiday Inn told the meeting that the business should not be prevented from offering more rooms. He said: “The hotel is currently operating at capacity and has been operating at capacity since it opened.

The proposed development allows the hotel to expand to meet the demand for accommodation that already exists.” Mr Hunter said designs had been scaled down during negotiations to fit better with existing buildings and that Holiday Inn had agreed to obscure glazing and limit the opening of windows.

Five councillors voted in favour, two against and one abstained.

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