Islington Council making ‘huge mistake’ in opposing a new five-star hotel
PUBLISHED: 17:05 31 May 2013
Plans for Islington’s first five-star hotel, which it is said would create 200 jobs and pump £1million into the area, have been announced – but the town hall may block the move.
The Montcalm Group want to take over Royal London House, a partially vacant office block in Finsbury Square, Finsbury, and turn it into a 256-bedroom hotel complete with new bars, restaurants and leisure facilities for people who live and work in the area.
The developers also say they will create 200 new jobs, 50 of which will go to Islington residents for as long as the hotel is around.
On top of that, they have promised to give £200,000 to St Luke’s Community Centre in nearby Central Street as well as its old kitchen equipment and uniforms, plus work experience placements for its training courses.
Placements may also be offered to students of Central Foundation Boys’ School in Cowper Street.
Montcalm are offering in the region of £1million to improve transport and public spaces in the area – but the firm say Islington Council remains unconvinced that the hotel is a good idea.
Jonathan Meier, head of development for Montcalm Hotels, said: “We have been told by Islington Council’s planning officers that this application to convert this tired and under-occupied office building into the borough’s first five-star hotel will be recommended for refusal on the basis of a loss of office space.
“We believe it would be a huge mistake for it to be so easily dismissed as the local jobs and community benefits far outweigh anything an office development would provide.”
He added: “At the moment it looks as though Islington Council is willing to let this opportunity slip through its fingers because of a policy that says they should not lose office space.”
Currently about 75 people are thought to use the offices in the 1950s building.
Mr Meier said: “There have been no objections to the application and overwhelming support from the other businesses in the square and the local community.”
Jacob Loftus, from Friends of Finsbury Square, said: “We feel that upgrading Royal London House from under-occupied offices and thus bringing the building back into full use would be beneficial to the square.”
He said the hotel formed part of “an exciting future for the square, which was left damaged last year following the eventual eviction of protesters from the site”.
A spokesman for the council said: “Planning officers have been in discussion with the applicants and also provided pre-application advice.”
The application will be heard by the Planning Committee on June 18.
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