Debate has broken out at the Town Hall over whether the Hoxton-Shoreditch area has too many hotels, as a 12-storey block on the site of the former Street Feast market Dinerama is approved.
The Great Eastern Street plot, which had been Street Feast’s Shoreditch operation until it was forced to close in 2020 having been unsuccessful in reaching a deal with their landlords, will now see the arrival of a budget hotel with associated office building.
While the building itself has not attracted much criticism, with planning committee chair Cllr Vincent Stops remarking that “it must be the first time ever we’ve had a 12-storey building with no objections from the public,” the arrival of the new project from applicants Minories Ltd. has caused reflection on the wider direction of what is being built in the area.
Cllr Clare Joseph, pointing to a planning report concluding there is not an overconcentration of hotels in Hoxton with a demand identified due to the area’s urban nature, said: “I would beg to differ.”
She added: “The last time a hotel came before the planning committee that was going to be in Hoxton around this area I called up about 21 different hotels within a mile of Great Eastern Street, and they all had space available.
“As somebody who lives quite near here, there already is an oversupply. I don’t know how you can prove at the moment that there is a demand considering we have spent the past year in lockdown.
“Is there any data that can demonstrate demand, because I don’t feel there is a need for another high-rise hotel in this area.”
Joseph went on to raise concerns about a wind tunnel effect caused by high-rises in the south of the borough, asking “what do we say to residents who say they can’t walk down the street without getting half blown away.”
According to planning officers, the borough works off the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) data projecting both demand and supply for visitor accommodation, with any application being subject to analysis on anticipated demand and taking into account completed schemes and those with permission to proceed.
The latest GLA data, which councillors have been advised to take at face value despite the impact of Covid, shows that there remains a surplus of 908 hotel rooms in Hackney overall, making it “very difficult” to reject an application on the grounds of an oversupply of hotels locally, according to officers.
Responding on concerns over wind, officers said that the planned 12-storey block on the Dinerama site was more of a “mid-rise” building, with the nearby Stage development likely to have a far greater impact due to its size.
Minories representative Nick Jenkins, discussing the potential impact of Covid on hotel demand, said: “We need to talk about a long-term view here. We don’t want any knee-jerk reactions in terms of what is going on. We need to think about London for the next twenty to forty years.
“Hotels invariably take long leases in properties. There is still interest in this building for hotel use, so absolutely positive in that regard. It is a very positive news story for this area, as the hotel will complete the urban block. There is a piece missing out of the jigsaw of this current block.”
Cllr Stops added: “I remember when there were no hotels in the borough at all. It has been an amazing transformational change, and I look forward to refusing hotels on the basis we have hit the 2041 target twenty years early.
“Nick is representing people who think there is plenty of scope for more hotels in London, so that is an interesting thing, and the GLA agrees with them.”