Waterloo Hub Hotel redevelopment approved by Lambeth councillors

Plans to redevelop and expand the Waterloo Hub Hotel (formerly Days Hotel) at the corner of Kennington Road and Lambeth Road have been approved by Lambeth councillors.

Waterloo Hub Hotel redevelopment approved by Lambeth councillors
The proposed new tower seen from just outside Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park

The scheme includes demolition of part of the existing building and the construction of a 14-storey tower at the front corner of the site.

The expanded hotel – designed by Dexter Moren Associates – would have 355 bedrooms compared to 162 rooms at present.

The existing building dates from 1981 and was constructed as a hostel and later used as student accommodation before conversion to a hotel in 1998.

An earlier proposal to redevelop the site was turned down by a planning inspector on appeal in 2019.

Planning officer Luke Farmer told councillors how the latest scheme had been shaped by the involvement of a design review panel.

The proposed brick arches at ground level of the new building are a nod to the Surrey Lodge hostel which occupied the corner site until the Second World War. Surrey Lodge was run by Emma Cons of Old Vic theatre fame.

Councillors were told that Historic England had raised concerns with the council about the potential of the new 14-storey building to be visible behind Lambeth Palace when viewed from Lambeth Bridge.

In their initial assessment of the planning application, Greater London Authority officers also noted 'harm' to the setting of the Imperial War Museum and Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park.

Mr Farmer described the developer's intention to retain much of the 1980s hotel building as "a big positive" in sustainability terms.

The existing hotel is set back from the corner

The developer intends to fell 12 trees currently on the site and to plant 32 new trees.

"We are local residents who live and work within a short walk from Waterloo Hub, Sheetal Kapoor of Palm Holdings, who owns the hotel together with his brother Ricky, told councillors.

He added: "Our proposal sustainably reinvigorates an existing hotel, creates a new landmark for this gateway to Waterloo and delivers significant public and community benefit."

Local resident Jesse Beardsworth, who spoke in objection to the earlier planning application in 2017, addressed councillors to offer support for the new proposals, thanking the developments for "an open and honest dialogue with residents".

The proprietor of nearby Indian restaurant Cafe Ishaq also spoke at the meeting to ask councillors to support the new scheme.

South Bank & Waterloo ward councillor Ibrahim Dogus told the meeting that he welcomed the "early and thorough" consultation, and noted the use of the hotel as a shelter for rough sleepers during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Cllr Dogus said the height and bulk of the new tower is "appropropriate" and the extra visitor accommodation will provide a boost to the local economy.

Doug Black, who leads Lambeth's design and conservation team, told councillors that the impact of the new tower in the backdrop of Lambeth Palace when viewed from Lambeth Bridge would be "negligible".

Mr Black pointed out the presence of the much larger Two Fifty One tower at the Elephant & Castle in the images shown at the meeting, noting that – in contrast – he would characterise that Southwark development as having "a dominant and harmful visual impact" on the setting of the Archbishop of Canterbury's residence.

Asked about the developer's intention to restore the pre-war building line on the corner of the two main roads but with a much taller building, Mr Black replied: "Officers are of the view that an additional tall building defining that corner, when considered along with [Lambeth Towers, International House and the under-construction Premier Inn on the Lambeth Mission site] is an acceptable proposition and one that will actually be beneficial to the townscape."

Committee member Cllr Scott Ainslie (Green Party) noted the proliferation of hotels in Waterloo in recent years and pressed for clarification on the demand for visitor accommodation in the context of the need for new housing in the borough.

Describing the location as "one of Lambeth's great junctions," Cllr Ainslie also questioned the loss of the existing trees on the corner site that he said – together with those across the road in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park – bring a "tremendous sense of wellbeing".

The committee approved the application by three votes to two.

Tags: Planning & Development, Hotels, Lambeth, Politics & local government, Waterloo

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