Saturday, 30 November 2013

From art gallery to hotel to serviced apartments


This was brought to my attention earlier in the year, but now posters outside the former art gallery/hotel building of the Seager Distillery confirm the arrival of new 'serviced apartments' next year.

This is the location of the new *ahem* Greenwich Staycity  due to open next May.



You may remember that this (originally rather lovely) building was first earmarked to become an art gallery and six floors of office space; this proposed community/arts and employment use no doubt contributed to lots of warm feelings among the planning committee members who granted permission for it.

Subsequently of course, the developer claimed that there had been 'no interest' in the office space and had been unable to get a tenant for the art gallery, and applied for permission to move the gallery space out of the glorious double-height ground floor space on the A2 to the much pokier and less visible spaces on the Brookmill Road part of the site. This would then enable the developer to convert the building into a 4* 'boutique hotel' for the operator that was interested in leasing it.

Some of us scoffed at the idea that those travelling on a 'boutique hotel' budget would choose a major intersection on one of London's most congested red routes for their stay in our capital city. At last year's Open House event it emerged that the 'boutique hotel' operator had pulled out (if indeed they had ever existed) and the future of the hotel was looking uncertain.

And now the former-art-gallery-former-hotel space will become serviced apartments - essentially private rented accommodation which caters for short stays.

Unfortunately some of us are so cynical that we even suspect this might not be the end of the story.

Serviced apartments is a booming sector of the hospitality industry, according to the website Serviced Apartment News which offers an interesting insight into how the sector works, why it offers a good investment, and the benefits it offers developers. This article in particular reveals how developers are more likely now to retain ownership of private rented developments and team up with operators to let them as serviced apartments. Such units are cheaper to build and fit out than a hotel, and offer 'relatively easy conversion to residential' those in the industry point out.

This kind of statement sets the alarm bells ringing straight away for the cynics.

What's more, to fit out a proposed hotel with serviced-apartments-offering-relatively-easy-conversion-to-residential requires no application for a change in planning use, since serviced apartments come under the same classification as hotels.

The inclusion of a hotel on the site (like the office space that preceded it) had strong potential benefits for the area. People staying in hotels (or working in offices) generally eat and drink locally, use taxis and other local services, and possibly even visit nearby shops - so a reasonable amount of money would be expected to find its way into the local economy - if not Deptford, then Greenwich at least.

With serviced apartments, which include kitchen facilities, this local spend is likely to be much diminished, and with the loss of office space (various applications having already been submitted/withdrawn/refused for the change of use of space in the 'pavilion building' in the middle of the development, also proposed to be office space) the potential benefits for local businesses is further reduced.

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for brining this to my attention.

I purchased an apartment in the Distillery. I now feel as I have been misled.

These SERVICED APARTMENTS will, if they eventually become full residential, mean even more competition for people who let out properties there. Will the serviced apartments intefere with the resideences already alongiside it?

I'm also not overly impressed by the write-ups in relation to the owner. But. at the end of the day, Galliard informed me that this would be a 'four star' hotel, and I shall certainly be asking why it isn't.

Anonymous said...

So many of these developments at some point in the process feature a Hotel - it's ridiculous - it must be some way to get planning permission more easily - retail, that's another thing. The new towerblocks at the bottom of loampit vale have supposedly got retail at ground level, but can anybody seriously imagine that this will actually be filled with 'retail'? Of course not. And the "Lewisham Gateway' project promised a hotel - a hotel, in a towerblock, in the middle of Lewisham - it's all developers lies

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