Regulars call for Belsize Park launderette to be saved from closure
'I’ve been coming here for donkey’s years and this would be a tremendous loss - There aren’t any other launderettes around here'
08 January, 2020 — By Charles Woodham
FAITHFUL customers have swung behind a launderette in Belsize Park in a bid to save it from closure.
Neighbours are urging Camden to refuse a “change of use” application for the service in England’s Lane – known simply as “Launderette” – to become a shop. Some only became aware of the potential change via a small article in last week’s New Journal.
A petition calling for it to be saved has garnered over 550 signatures since Christmas.
Phil Cowan, a campaigner from Primrose Hill, said: “The launderette has provided a vital service to residents of the area for decades and continues to do so.”
He added: “It is always busy with people doing their own laundry as well as those who choose to use the excellent in-house service washes and other provisions which are competitively priced to appeal to most budgets.”
It follows a similar case last year which saw an attempt to change the use of the Belsize Lane launderette to retail. The switch was refused in February after users insisted it was well used. Mr Cowan added: “If we want our high streets to continue to be relevant, attractive and inclusive to everybody then we must try to persuade our local authority planners of the importance of keeping a good mix of businesses and avoid the alternative scenario of a parade of endless homogeny which inevitably concludes with long periods of empty units.”
Past visitors of the England’s Lane launderette include presenter Chris Evans, Wizzard singer Roy Wood and Jason Orange from Take That, according to customers.
“I’ve been coming here for donkey’s years and this would be a tremendous loss. There aren’t any other launderettes around here,” said one customer when the New Journal visited the service this week. Another objector said: “There’s an independent living care home that doesn’t have the facilities to hold that much washing so they come here to do it all. The pub uses it, the butcher uses it, the beauty salon uses it.”
They added: “There’s a hostel up the road where loads of our customers live. They have to come here to do their washing as they don’t have anywhere else to do it. Some of them have kids – where else are they going to go?” Camden’s planners are currently reviewing the plans. Documents filed at the Town Hall show that a company called Artichoke has requested the change of use and it is in line to be a new juice bar.
The application said: “The function, character and success of the centre will not be harmed as a result of the loss of the launderette as users of the existing launderette can simply use Chequers Dry Cleaners which is located across the road.” It added the change would “contribute to the vitality and viability of England’s Lane”.