'Mushrooming budget hotels' warning for Seven Sisters Road as Premier Inn gets planning permission
PUBLISHED: 19:14 10 October 2018 | UPDATED: 09:28 11 October 2018
Premier Inn was granted planning permission to build a new branch in Finsbury Park last night – but a ward councillor warned against the “mushrooming of budget hotels” in the area.
Islington’s planning committee approved plans for the development, at the vacant 240 Seven Sisters Road site, during a town hall meeting on Tuesday.
There wasn’t consensus that building a hotel is the best option, with some councillors championing the affordable housing cause, while others argued office space would deliver more high-skilled jobs with superior wages.
But a planning officer said the poor air quality in Seven Sisters Road, combined with the vibrations and noise pollution from the nearby station, make it an unsuitable location for permanent housing.
The sole objection came from Cllr Gary Heather (Lab, Finsbury Park), who brandished a glossy prospectus, and said: “I have recently received a manifesto for another hotel.
“It seem we are dropping a mushroom of budget hotels in Finsbury Park – as a councillor I was elected on a manifesto of building affordable housing.
“I do question what it [the hotel] is giving back to the community.”
He pointed to the luxury City North development being built at Finsbury Park station, suggesting the area can support permanent housing.
The 240 Seven Sisters Road site is a short stroll away from a Travelodge, which is in the adjoining Isledon Road.
And Cllr Heather revealed a firm called RPS Group is currently lobbying for support to build yet another hotel at 201A Seven Sisters Road, which is within spitting distance of the Premier Inn site.
Speaking on behalf of the applicant, planning consultant Richard Ward said: “Our team has worked pro-actively with the council and the community over a three-year consultation period.
“Nearly 600 local residents and businesses were consulted and the scheme has received only one objection.
“In line with the recommendation of officers we hope that members will be mindful to approve us so a vacant town centre site is brought back into use.”
In deliberation, Cllr Paul Convery (Lab, Caledonian) said of the Seven Sisters Road plot: “It’s a fairly grotty environment and it seems to me that the hotel is a practical use of the site.”
But he later added: “I’m very apprehensive that there is a drift around Finsbury Park to these kind of budget uses.
“If there is a risk there is going to be more sites here we should be more cautious.”
Islington’s former crime chief also said the design was “pretty ugly”, comparing its appearance with the neighbouring student accommodation.
“I would like to express my feeling of disagreement,” said Cllr Roulin Khondoker (Lab, Highbury West).
“There are [housing] sites adjacent to railways so it’s obviously possible – if Japan can create buildings that withstand earthquakes why can’t we build buildings that withhold vibrations from railways?”
Committee chair Cllr Martin Clute (Lab, St Peter’s) summarised: “There are obviously some different views around.
“If we want to refuse allocation we have to suggest some policy-based ground in which to refuse it.”
Cllr Jenny Kay (Lab, Mildmay) said: “I think the frustration for most of is: ‘Why can’t we use it for office space with more jobs and a higher wage and skill level?’”
In the end, the majority of councillors voted that the plan was “policy compliant”, and it was approved.
The Premier Inn will create 83 jobs, it is claimed, make an off-site affordable housing contribution and provide work placement opportunities and training for people from the area.