Councillors have approved controversial plans by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) for an 800-bed hotel in west London, despite objections from local residents, heritage groups and politicians
Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s planning and development control committee voted to grant consent for the scheme on the site of the former Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court on Talgarth Road in line with officer recommendation.
Backed by developer Dominvs, the hotel will feature four blocks arranged around an internal courtyard, with a North Hotel stepping from seven to 23 storeys and a South Hotel ranging from five to 10 floors.
Labour MP for Hammersmith Andy Slaughter urged the council to refuse the scheme, as he said it would be a ‘significant imposition for residents’ and an ‘oppressive structure’. The Fulham Society raised concerns of over ‘development of the site to the detriment of the surrounding residential areas’.
The Hammersmith Society said it was ‘dismayed’ that the proposals ‘overload the site’, while the Hammersmith and Fulham Historic Buildings Group warned that the hotel would ‘badly affect’ the setting of Barons Court Conservation Area.
The Friends of Margravine Cemetery said the hotel would loom over the 19th century burial site and feature ‘starkly’ in views of three of its Grade II-listed structures.
But planning officers advised that the scheme would cause ‘less than substantial harm’ to the setting and significance of The Mall Conservation Area and Barons Court Conservation Area and to the settings of some important buildings within those areas.
They added that the ‘configuration, design and materiality’ of the hotel would ‘enhance the town centre’s legibility; the definition of historic urban spaces; [and] the townscape character and identity’.
Officers said that the scheme would have an ‘acceptable’ impact on the amenities and living conditions of surrounding properties. They concluded that it ‘delivers substantial design, heritage and public benefits that are considered to outweigh the harm to designated heritage assets’.
The approval marks the latest chapter in a long saga for the site. Dominvs last year withdrew an earlier application drawn up by Dexter Moren Associates (pictured below) for the same plot.
Officers had recommended councillors approve this previous scheme – which also reached 23 storeys – saying it would ‘deliver good-quality architecture, which optimises the capacity of the site’.
But amid a flurry of local opposition, the scheme was withdrawn and Richard Rogers’ practice was appointed just before Christmas ‘to take a fresh look at the site’. Fresh plans were then submitted in April, featuring 842 rooms, down marginally from the 858 proposed by Dexter Moren.
Now approved by councillors, the RSHP proposals have been passed to the Mayor of London, who has two weeks to decide whether to call it in or wave it through.
Dexter Moren’s previous proposal for the site featuring a new south facing public square, lined by existing listed trees