This post was first published by The Croydon Citizen on 24/10/2017.
Croydon Council rejects attempted expansion of Queens Hotel
The Planning Committee of Croydon Council voted 6-4 Thursday night to refuse renovations to the London Crystal Palace Queens Hotel on Church Road.
If approved, existing buildings in the centre and rear of the hotel would have been demolished, with the creation of a new spine building and extensions to other sections, including its restaurant, parking area and swimming pool. The number of rooms would have increased from 334 to 530, with car parking spaces increasing from 63 to 170.
A crowd of more than fifty people, many vehemently against approval of the application, viewed the session. Their animated feelings were evident during the proceedings; when positive things were said about the renovations, sighs, groans and head-shakes. When the application was voted down after more than two hours of debate, much of the crowd erupted in cheers.
Supporters of the motion highlighted the up-to one hundred new jobs the renovations would bring to the area
Supporters of the motion highlighted the up-to one hundred new jobs the renovations would bring to the area (not including construction jobs), as well as the positive changes it would bring to the hotel.
Planning Committee Chair Paul Scott, while acknowledging the controversy surrounding the initiative, heralded it as ultimately benefitting the area economically. Scott also noted that while the hotel had had difficulties with the public in the past (a fact brought up by many in opposition), it was moving forward on community engagement with the creation of a local forum.
“We have an opportunity here to help improve the economy of the local area”, Scott said. “It is an economy that needs support.”
Bernard said he was against the expansion because the changes would have obstructed the view from his home
But this narrative was disputed by many local residents, who felt that the changes to the hotel would negatively affect them.
Robin Bernard, who has lived on Church Road for more than thirty-one years, said he was opposed to the measure because of the impact on the community, especially related to parking.
From a personal perspective, Bernard, who said that his front window overlooks the hotel, said that he was against the expansion because the changes would have obstructed the view from his home.
The motion for refusal was moved by Councilors Chris Wright and Wayne Trakas-Lawlor on the grounds of over-development/massing
“I enjoy the view where I live”, Bernard said. “That’s why I live there.”
Abbie Hayes, who helped organize against the effort, said she was “thrilled” at its defeat and said the local effort against the changes demonstrated the importance of the community.
“It was just too big, it was too close, and it just wasn’t appropriate for the area”, Hayes said.
The debate was not without controversy
The motion for refusal was moved by Councilors Chris Wright and Wayne Trakas-Lawlor on the grounds of over-development/massing detrimental to the Church Road Conservation Area and parking issues including impact from the scale development on additional on-street car parking.
The debate was not without controversy. At one point Councillor Trakas-Lawlor received a warning by Chairman Scott, with Scott telling Trakes-Lawlor his stated reason for his opposition to the measure being based on the feelings of local residents was “entirely against the whole principle of how we are required to make decisions” on planning applications, as it was based on objection by local residents rather than “material planning grounds”.
One item concerned the building of new housing units on Brighton Road
There were two other items on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting. One concerned the building of new housing units on Brighton Road, another involved the construction of a school on Morland Road.
The building of two new housing units, one three-bedroom and one two-bedroom, was voted down because of concerns that the buildings, described by several councillors as “shed-like”, did not fit well with the character of the area.
Another decision to demolish buildings on Morland Road and erect a five-storey secondary school was approved by the committee unanimously.