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- By Andy Smith
The Greater London Authority (GLA) has given the green light to a £1bn scheme to convert the Kensington Forum in London – currently a 906-bedroom Holiday Inn – into a hotel and serviced apartments alongside 62 affordable homes.
In spite of the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on London’s
hospitality market, Queensgate Investments and Rockwell are pressing ahead with
the scheme, designed by architect SimpsonHaugh.
The affordable homes element of the scheme is worth £90m, according to the developers, and promises to be “genuinely affordable”. It is being delivered under permitted development rights (PDR), which allows existing buildings to be changed into homes without the need to go through a full planning application.
Homes delivered under PDR will still have to meet minimum space standards after changes announced by housing secretary Robert Jenrick earlier this month.
The hotel will include restaurants, bars, health spa and conference
facilities as well as a new, publicly accessible 2,700 sq m garden square.
Donal Mulryan, founder of Rockwell said: “Not only
will this be one of the highest-quality buildings in the country, but
redevelopment of the Kensington Forum will deliver a 300%
increase in employment, 100% genuinely affordable social rented
homes and a new public garden square. This development will benefit those
who live, work and visit London for years to come.”
Approving the scheme, Deputy Mayor, Jules Pipe, said: “There is a desperate need for social housing across London… If we are to deliver affordable homes and other benefits for London, we must ensure we make the best use of land.”
“As well as improvements to the architectural quality,
when compared to the existing building, the development includes a number of
other significant benefits such as the addition of much-need affordable
housing, a reconfigured public garden square, additional jobs, improved visitor
accommodation and public realm improvements.”