Sunday, 19 August 2018 11:28

Premier Inn – market place confrontation

Written by Nick Jones
Chris Nightingale, of Friends of Barnet Market (right) told development director Simon Shaw he supported plans for the Premier Inn hotel on condition there was a guaranteed new site for Barnet market Chris Nightingale, of Friends of Barnet Market (right) told development director Simon Shaw he supported plans for the Premier Inn hotel on condition there was a guaranteed new site for Barnet market
Residents of Chipping Close were out in force to express their continuing opposition to the construction of a 100-bed Premier Inn opposite their homes on the site of Barnet Market.

After Barnet Council’s planning committee voted in July to reject the plan, Locate Developments have revised their proposals, and at the first of two open consultations, heard the views of those living nearby and in the rest of High Barnet.

Simon Shaw, development director, said the company hoped the changes would reassure residents in the surrounding area that they were doing all they could to meet local concerns.

The consultation at the market place car park – to be repeated with another drop-in on Monday 3 September between 6pm and 8pm – was also an opportunity for Locate to promote the possible benefits to High Barnet of a town centre Premier Inn.

Although the Chipping Close community remained resolute in their opposition to a three to four storey hotel overlooking their homes, some residents from nearby roads joined other shoppers and passers-by in welcoming the prospect of a new hotel next to the Spires shopping centre and close to the High Street.

“I’m in favour of the hotel,” said Wilf Nicholls of Salisbury Road. “Our house is just behind the Spires, so we are very close, and I think the changes in the plan will make a big difference for the residents.”

But Richard Gardham of Chipping Close said a 100-bed hotel was far too big for such a small site. The increase in traffic in their road would be horrendous.

The developers are just trying to soft-soap everyone into thinking a hotel will benefit Barnet, but there is no evidence it will bring business to the town or attract new retailers to the Spires

“The developers are just trying to soft-soap everyone into thinking a hotel will benefit Barnet, but there is no evidence it will bring business to the town or attract new retailers to the Spires.”

But Mr Shaw insisted Locate had taken on board earlier criticisms expressed by residents and changes recommended by Barnet’s planning committee:

  • The hotel entrance would now be in Bruce Road. There would be no pedestrian or vehicular access to the hotel from Chipping Close. All hotel deliveries would be via the Spires’ service yard, avoiding Bruce Road and Chipping Close.
  • Opaque glazing would be fitted to all windows on the ground, first and second floors facing Chipping Close to address residents’ fears their homes would be overlooked.
  • The pavement alongside the hotel’s frontage in Chipping Close would be re-surfaced with an acoustic-friendly material to reduce noise generated by wheelie suitcases.
  • A contribution to be made to a review of the local controlled parking zone to address concerns about on-street parking. Hotel guests would be encouraged to pay £3 a day to use the Spires’ car park which would be open to guests on a 24-hour basis.

Mr Shaw said Locate aimed to resubmit its planning application by the end of September and if approval was obtained, work would start early in 2019 and the hotel would be for business by early 2020.

Revised computer generated view of the Premier InnRevised computer generated view of the Premier Inn“Our plan is for a town centre hotel, that fits in with the character of High Barnet. It is not going to be the kind of Premier Inn situated alongside motorways.

“The guests we would expect to attract are people doing business in the locality or those visiting families and friends.

“Other possible sites have been mentioned, such as the former High Barnet police station, the former Brake Shear house workshops, or the former Barnet College building at the junction of the High Street and Fitzjohn Avenue, but they are not available, nor do they have secure car parking space nearby.”

 

Among those supporting Mr Shaw’s argument that High Barnet would gain from a Premier Inn was Ave Vinick of Sebright Road. “A new hotel is just what High Barnet needs. Our High Street shops are teetering on the edge and this would be a big boost.

A new hotel is just what High Barnet needs. Our High Street shops are teetering on the edge and this would be a big boost.

“I think we all understand the concern of the Chipping Close residents, but the alternative to a sympathetically-designed Premier Inn is probably going to be a block of flats and that will be far less appealing.”

The hotel would be three storeys high facing Chipping Close and this is still far too high in the view of Alan Howard who has lived in the Close since he was a child.

“The hotel is going to be four storeys high facing the Spires and it will block out the sun in our garden.”

His wife Mary Howard also remained unconvinced. She doubted whether hotel guests would spend money in nearby shops and restaurants.

Steven Struthers, another Chipping Close resident, argued that the changes didn’t address their concerns. “We will still get loads of cars doing U-turns in Chipping Close.

We just don’t like the scale and proximity of the new hotel – it might have been different with a development that was more respectful to the neighbourhood.”

Anthony Collett, another critic of the plan, said a new hotel on the market place would clog up the area. “If you want to build a new hotel there is plenty of space around Borehamwood.”

If you want to build a new hotel there is plenty of space around Borehamwood.

Chris Nightingale of Friends of Barnet Market expressed support for the hotel but that was on condition there was evidence of real guarantees that a secure new site would be found for the market.

Robin Bishop, chair of the Barnet Society, said he was concerned about the likely traffic snarl-up around the St Albans Road and High Street junction if Bruce Road was used as the entrance and the proposed design of the entrance itself.

Once we have looked at these proposals and consulted widely, the society will respond to any fresh planning application made by Locate

The revised plans will now be considered by the society’s committee and planning advisers and every effort would be made to consult the society’s membership, and especially those living in nearby roads.

“Once we have looked at these proposals and consulted widely, the society will respond to any fresh planning application made by Locate,” said Mr Bishop.

 

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7 comments

  • Comment Link Saturday, 01 September 2018 10:20 posted by David Cadisch

    The proposed development is unthinkable. Apart from the loss of the Market, the traffic congestion generated by a hotel would make what is already a bottleneck much worse, and would create terrible delays, particularly at rush hours.
    Surely a more suitable site could be found?

  • Comment Link Saturday, 01 September 2018 12:30 posted by david wolgroch

    I have no problem with this project. The market is insignificant. But to improve the high street the solution is simple: PARKING. PROVIDE FREE PARKING FOR 90 MINUTES AND PEOPLE WILL SHOP.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 01 September 2018 13:35 posted by Guise Griffin

    I agree with the comments about parking.
    That’s what really matters.

    Don’t agree that a Premier Inn is appropriate for this site.
    This is better to be left for parking space for shoppers. Let’s make it easier for people to shop in high street and use restaurants in evening with free evening parking.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 04 September 2018 13:58 posted by Amanda Holly

    I am not convinced. I dont believe transient travellers will have any interest in the area. There's also a Premier Inn in Borehamwood, and at 2 least B&Bs within walking distance to this one. Barnet. I dont believe transient travellers will have any interest in the area.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 04 September 2018 22:47 posted by Steven

    I always thought Residents Association's were supposed to help their residents not propagate for the developer, with such past headlines as;
    “A Hotel Worthy of Historic Site”,
    “A Premier Inn with a Difference?”,
    “Barnet Market & Premier Inn – An opportunity Slipping Away”,

    “Premier Inn _ Market Place Confrontation”
    Again Barnet Society paints the wrong picture, and makes it out that only "Residents of Chipping Close were out in force to express their continuing opposition to the construction of a 100-bed Premier Inn..." if Barnet Society would care to look at those residents that took the time to look at the hotel plans and submitted formal objections to the last proposal they would see the majority of objectors were from other streets in the area, Strafford Road, St Albans Rd, Alston Rd, Calvert Road, Wrotham Road, Salisbury Road, Puller Road, Bruce Road, Bartletts Cottages, Wyburn Avenue, The Drive, Hadley Ridge, Byng Road, Sebright Road, Lucan Rd etc... After all Chipping Close is only 10 cottages.

    Yes the previous plan, (which was supported by Barnet Society), was refused by the planning committee mainly because of the detrimental impact on the residents of Chipping Close, but there are many other concerns that were not addressed. This new plan does little to amend the bigger issues with the build such as, it will now have a new entrance, pick up/drop off point on Bruce Rd which will not even visible from the street and turning in and out of it a certain times will either be impossible or plain dangeous.

    And why in Barnet Society articles is the hotel continually linked to the move of the market? I guess it is no surprise that both the hotel and the market move applications are by the same developer, but surely these have to be two independent plans, you wouldn't overlook problems in one application to benefit the other would you?
    The idea is frankly scary, as their should be no quid pro quo in planning especially when it could permanently affect the amenity of residents and the local area forever

    But yet they openly state, “ The Barnet Society supports the proposed Premier Inn, but only on these conditions:
    1. The application (18/2483/FUL) to relocate the market to The Spires bandstand site must be approved.”

    The plan to move the market to the bandstand area has been approved and in the planning submission it states that "the Market will relocate as soon as planning permission is granted", it has been granted but yet it has not begun to phase over. I really hope the conditions of the market move aren't based on a hotel being built because that would seem like a bit of conflict of interest to me.

    Either way it is win/win for the Spires; they sell the car park, get footfall from the hotel and get to keep the market, just a pity they didn't want to keep it where it was and try and really rejuvenate, as there is nothing like a good market to bring people to a town centre.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 06 September 2018 23:20 posted by Steven

    As of Tuesday the 4 of Sept, the Capita owned group GL Hearn re-submitted planning for the 100 room Premier Inn on behalf of Locate Developments on behalf of the Premier Inn/Whitbread.

    Given the last consultation was only on Monday, I am very surprised this was enough time for the members of the public’s comments to be digested and incorporated by the planners.

    The submission is now on the Barnet Planning portal for all to make comments on. Given that it is exactly the same case officer that oversaw the first submission, I'd expect Barnet's Planning to do nothing again and this will go to a Planning Committee again.

    How the same case officer that approved a plan that was ultimately refused by councillors is reassigned to the reapplication is beyond belief. Whether this is standard practice, a mere coincidence or the developers paid to have the same case officer via Barnet Council’s fast track service (Barnet is the only Borough where you can choose your case officer) it seems wrong to me.

    As if you personally signed off on the plan the first time you are not going to turn around and acknowledge your mistakes the second time round.

    But your objections are vital, numbers do count. Please visit Barnet Planning and search EN54LP or 18/5395/FUL, further to this write our local councillors and our MP's.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 16 September 2018 10:35 posted by Nick Saul

    So now we know – it is increasingly obvious Premier Inn will be sold to an unknown international investor with unknown intentions probably even before the proposed hotel could be opened. Fears people are expressing for some unknown future reuse of the proposed hotel building should be fears for now.

    Reputable financial media coverage of Whitbread’s sale of Costa Coffee to Coca Cola reveals the company’s policy is being dictated by american billionaire asset stripper Paul Singer’s vulture hedge fund Elliot Advisors. More and more articles report Premier Inn is their next target.

    Despite comments by Whitbread management beyond reasonable doubt the current massive expansion of the Premier Inn portfolio is being used as a bait and switch operation by activist investors. The brand name is being used to obtain planning permission to build new Premier Inns inevitably leading to the business being swallowed up by a larger international operator. Unlike Coca Cola, who were diversifying into a new market, the buyer will undoubtably be an existing overseas hotel operator who will wish to expand their own branded operation with its own operating policy and expectations of individual properties.

    The only delay will be seeing through outstanding planning applications and also splitting the property ownership and hotel operation portfolios through a leaseback facility to maximise the value of both assets. It is implied in the proposal that such an separation of ownership and operation is already in place for the Marketplace.

    Promises made by the applicant are core to a whole raft of planning considerations and completely vital to the hotel’s construction and operation as proposed. Any such promises made on the basis it is in the applicant’s interest to resolve issues such as impact on neighbours, traffic and parking are meaningless if the applicant will not be the operator. All they need is to tick three boxes – “hotel”, “100 plus rooms” “restaurant and bar”. Everything else is just window dressing to get planning approval.

    Given ridiculous over expansion by many hotel operators the certain over provision of rooms will lead to many buildings being sold off or repurposed. We simply do not know what sort of management we will get or what anything built would be used for within the broad C1 planning approval. What we would get in terms of a building are the bricks and mortar of an inner city hostel prefabricated for future urban degeneration.

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