It’s checking-out time, say E9 hotel protesters

Silkhouse hotel 100 Hasstt Rd Lon E9 May 2012

A CLAIM that a cheap hotel has been operating illegally in a listed building in Homerton will be assessed by Hackney councillors this week. The planning subcommittee is due tonight to decide whether to accept its officers’ recommendation to grant planning permission for change of use to a 25-bedroom hotel with en-suite bathrooms.

Opponents, mostly local residents, say that the former convent at 100 Hassett Road, Hackney E9 5SJ,  is a grade II listed building and has been operating as a budget hotel, Silkhouse, for almost two years with neither planning permission for change of use nor listed building consent.

The protest group, which Tweets as @E9_Residents, says: “Nevertheless they [the owners] have been advertising the hotel on line and letting rooms.”

The group criticises the council, adding: “Despite issuing an enforcement notice, Hackney has amazed us all by turning around and announcing they recommend planning permission is now granted. Homerton does not want or need a hotel; it is identified as a target area for residential growth and Hassett Road is entirely residential.”

A protest petition has attracted almost 200  signatures.

Silkhouse is advertised on many websites and offers a range of facilities that seems extraordinary for a two-star hotel. Among them are indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpool bath, sauna, steam room, spa and massage. The hotel is within walking distance of the London Olympics events this summer.

Loving Dalston put the protesters’ allegations to Adil Mir, one of the owners. It also asked, if planning permission was not sought before opening the business, why not?

Mark Thackeray, the hotel’s planning consultant, late today replied: “The lawful or unlawful nature of the use is not, as you [the opposition] suggest, clear-cut, simply because the council, under pressure from a few local residents, thinks that it may be.  The legality or otherwise of a hotel, compared with its previous use, which in planning terms was a form of hostel, is an issue that is currently before the Planning Inspectorate for determination.

“This matter cannot, therefore be prejudged.  If Mr Mir’s contention, that there has been no material change of use, is proved correct, then the enforcement notice will be quashed and his decision to use the premises without seeking planning permission will be upheld.

“As to the question of need for a hotel in the area, the council has no evidence, one way or the other, as to the demand for or supply of new hotel rooms in the borough.  It therefore becomes a commercial decision, measured against the Government’s guidance on new accommodation for tourists.  This is contained in the Good Practice Guide on Planning for Tourism and the guidance has been properly followed.

As for works requiring listed building consent, the council had not served a listed-building enforcement notice.

Thackeray said: “The conservation officer supports the application, having regard to its sympathetic treatment of the building, and the planning officer is recommending that a hotel is a most appropriate alternative use for a building of this character and with this history”.

“The ongoing dispute between the hotel and a small group of residents is unfortunate, but it should not be allowed to detract from the planning merits of a very positive proposal to keep the building in active and appropriate use.”

* Hackney council’s planning sub-committee meets today Monday 14 May 2012 at Hackney Town Hall (above), Mare Street E8 1EA, at 6.30pm.
* See news update at this site

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6 thoughts on “It’s checking-out time, say E9 hotel protesters

  1. I just checked the Agoda listing (via your hyperlink) and the indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpool bath, sauna, steam room, spa and massage are listed as being Not Available. Currently it claims it both has, and has not, got an elevator.

    Only a cowboy council would operate a planning department without an enforcement team, surely?

  2. I don’t see what’s so bad about having a hotel in Hackney. I would not have thought anyone would actually want to to stay in Homerton but if they do, why not? As to the above comment I have been in Homerton many times and the “drunken yobs”, of which there are many, are clearly local, not tourists.

    For once I agree with the counci planners: let the hotel stay and perhaps bring something good to the neighbourhood, for a change.

  3. Seems to fit in quite nicely with our thoughts about Hackney planning — if we leave it long enough it’ll go away!

  4. This “hotel” proposal is an incoherent mass of obfuscation and promises that couldn’t be kept even if the owner had the community’s best interests at heart — which, in the course of 16 planning submissions in two years, is blatantly not the case. It is staggering that Hackney council has allowed this issue to drag for so long.

  5. Absolutely disgusted with the London Borough of Hackney that it would even consider this application. As a resident living in Hassett Road, I can say that the impact is detrimental to the community that lives here, especially the children, who no longer play outside their own homes because of the drunken yobs hanging about.

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