BY JULIA GREGORY
Local Democracy Reporter
London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to give the go-ahead to a £300million, 30-storey hotel in the heart of a tourist area is being challenged in the High Court.
Many residents say such a giant complex is not in keeping with the area and the local
Kensington and Chelsea council has filed papers to mount a judicial review against the Mayor’s decision to approve the Kensington Forum Hotel in Gloucester Road, an area
popular with tourists visiting the Natural History and V&A museums.
The council’s submission, which has been filed at the High Court, is 600 pages long.
Councillor Johnny Thalassites, who is the lead member with responsibility for planning and transport said the council “remains very disappointed at the decision to grant
permission for an even bigger building on this site that is completely against the clear
wishes of residents and utterly unsuited to its location.”
Sadiq Khan backed the plan to demolish the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum and replace it with a £300million hotel block up to 30 storeys high which would make it the tallest tower in Kensington.
He called in the plan after Kensington and Chelsea planning committee rejected the scheme after a meeting last year which lasted six-and-a-half hours.
The scheme includes 749 hotel rooms – down from 906 originally – and 340 serviced
Part of the building, opposed by 800 residents, will be 22 storeys high, with
another area nine storeys high, but it will reach 30 storeys at its highest point.
The council’s move to challenge the Mayor was welcomed by residents’ groups who
campaigned against the new hotel.
Alan Lester, chairman of the Cornwall Garden Residents’ Association, said: “We are pleased that RBKC has brought this judicial review and we hope the outcome is successful.”
Cornwall Gardens was designated a conservation area in 1969 and Mr Lester said if the hotel was built “it threatens the return of the tall buildings policy which is why
conservation areas were installed in the first place.
“We want to stop random tall buildings in inappropriate areas.”
People from 30 residents’ associations united to oppose the scheme.
Lubna Samara from the Ashburn Courtfield Gardens Residents’ Association said the Mayor’s argument that the scheme would provide homes was “politicking. Sixty-two homes are nothing in this area.”
Politicians queued up to attack the hotel’s design at a full council meeting days after Mr Khan’s decision in June.
Conservative councillor Maxwell Woodger said the scheme would see developers “knock down the most unpopular tower – only to replace it with the tower of Mordor.” – a
reference to a grim location depicted in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Councillor Tom Bennett called it “a complete behemoth”, referring to its size.