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Planners give green light for ‘ugly’ High Street hotel on sports shop site

31 January, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

A NEW hotel is set to be built in Camden Town after the Town Hall’s planning committee passed an application to demolish a 1930s store and create a seven-storey block in its place.

Originally built for Woolworths and home to Sports Direct until last month, the site, on the corner of Camden High Street and Delancey Street, will see an 80-bed Premier Inn constructed.

Land behind, known as Signmakers Yard, will also be used for the hotel. The project includes three new social housing flats.

The application was given the green light despite a raft of objections from neighbours and civic groups.

The Delancey Street Residents Association told the council it believed the architecture chosen was not suitable.

“We think that the design will have a negative impact to this important corner of Camden Town which serves as a gateway to Delancey Street and Regent’s Park,” the association said. “This proposal will not be, as the applicant describes, ‘respecting the unique character of Camden’, but disrespecting it and actually be material to its detriment.”

Developer Demar Hold­­ings had tweaked their plans following a consultation, but the association said the changes were minimal.

It said: “The revised design still looks cheap and ugly and bears little relationship to any other building in the vicinity. It is an utterly generic building clad in horrible prefabricated brick slip- faced panels. Far from being as the applicant describes ‘referencing local materials – brick stucco’, it is in reality entirely devoid of character, nuance, individuality or a single redeeming feature. The whole awful scheme is utterly depressing.”

Sports Direct closed down last month

An umbrella group for other residents associations in the neighbourhood, The Tenants Residents Associations Camden Town (TRACT), said it believed a planned bar on the ground floor was unnecessary due to the large number already in Camden Town – and demanded the hotel would only let rooms for at least 24-hour stays, as they claimed other hotels near by could be hired for one or two hours at a time.

“This is not the kind of venue we want to see in Camden,” it said.

Demar Holdings, who will build the hotel for the Premier Inn chain to manage, said the beds were needed in Camden Town as it continues to be a popular destination, and that flats would help with the borough’s affordable homes crisis.

The company told planners the new shopfront would be a “high quality” design and would im­prove the look of the high street.

The look of the new building was praised by the Camden Design Review Panel, a body made up of architects and council officers that offer advice to developers.

Work will begin in the summer, with the project estimated to take around two years to complete.

It is predicted that 40,000 people a year will check in. Louise Woodruff, acquisitions manager for Whitbread, the company which owns Premier Inn, said: “We spent a lot of time talking to the planning team at Camden when designing the building. Our goal was to create a building which suits its context, fits our operational requirements and would make a positive contribution to Camden High Street.”

She added: “When it opens the hub by Premier Inn Camden High Street hotel will create 35 new full- and part-time job opportunities, with recruitment focused locally, and will support established businesses as our guests go out to eat, drink, see live music and generally make the most of the local area.”

Sports Direct last year opened a new store in Stables Market, close to the Amy Winehouse statue.

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