Clerkenwell campaigners 'priced out' of fight against Farringdon Road Premier Inn
PUBLISHED: 11:12 31 May 2017 | UPDATED: 11:16 31 May 2017
Campaigners reckon they are being priced out of their fight against the "social cleansing" of Clerkenwell.
Applicant Endurance Land wants to knock down the NCP car park and build a 180-room Premier Inn hotel with a small amount of retail and office space.
The Catherine Griffiths and Clerkenwell Community Tenants and Residents’ Association (TRA) is fighting the plans.
It claims developers are “land grabbing” Clerkenwell, and the site should be used for “useful” shops and affordable housing.
But after Islington Council rejected the hotel plans last year, the TRA has learnt Endurance’s appeal will be heard at a public inquiry.
This means the future of the site will be in the hands of expensive barristers. The TRA only formed earlier this year, meaning it will have to rely on a crowdfunding campaign to fund its fightback.
Chair Jacqueline Czelny believes the planning system is rigged in favour of developers.
She said: “The poignant question is why the Planning Inspectorate agreed for this to be a public inquiry. A public inquiry is usually for airports, or motorways – not car parks.
“We feel this government department is biased against local residents by agreeing to this. It really feels like a fight where we are David and they are Goliath.
“Our future is now in the hands of expensive barristers, which they can afford. We, on the other hand, are going to have to rely on crowdfunding to cover the costs of our case.
“The developer has not considered the needs of the community. A hotel features nowhere in local policy. They don’t care about what we want and need – it’s all about making money. It’s part of the wider social cleansing of Clerkenwell.”
In appeal documents, design consultant RGP claimed in just one paragraph there is a proven need for a hotel.
It said: “When identifying a site to develop for a hotel, it is important to note that Whitbread,who would operate the proposed hotel, undertake extensive background research to establish the most suitable locations. It has been identified by the hotel operator that there is significant demand for a hotel at the appeal site.”
Endurance, for its part, believes it would be redeveloping an “unattractive” car park site, and that hotel patrons would use nearby businesses in shopping streets such as Exmouth Market.
The TRA has until the end of this month to put its case forward ahead of a three-day hearing this summer. It is launching a fundraising page for legal representation next week. For more information, visit cgcctra.org