Thursday, 27 August 2015
Hotel plans for Deptford High Street.
In eight years of delving into the annals of planning proposals in order to write this blog I've read some ludicrous proposals, but I have to say that this one pretty much takes the biscuit.
It's been rumoured for several years now that the owner of this unattractive block of flats next to Deptford station had plans to convert it into a hotel, but as yet there is nothing in the planning system. With a 'public exhibition' now in the offing in early September, it seems that the scheme could be moving forward.
The flyer says that the owner of the site, Masstrade, wants to redevelop the site and build 'a high quality design hotel, including ground floor lobby with active uses and an improved community space for Our Lady of the Assumption Church'.
It would be hard to make this already-pitiful building look attractive, but the photographer and poster designer seem to have conspired to grime it up as much as possible, presumably so that we all agree it would be a blessing if it were rapidly flattened. I'm not necessarily arguing against that; my soul seems to die a little every time my eyes are forced to alight on its cheap and badly-proportioned exterior, and it adds little aesthetic value to the streetscape.
But turn the flyer over and take a look at the 'high quality design hotel' that is being proposed. I wonder if Masstrade got the 'architect' from the previous post to do a bit of moonlighting for them?
My untutored eyes are telling me that this is not a building, it is a stack of Ikea Billy bookcases. I am quite convinced that's what it's modelled on in any case. It most certainly is not 'high quality design', in fact it is close to making the existing structure look accomplished.
Whatever the quality of the building, I fail to see how change of use to a hotel will improve on the current use - the upper levels currently provide six flats and there are two shop units at ground level, which with some investment could surely be lucrative for the owner, being right next to the station.
Fundamentally I cannot see any logic for building a hotel slap bang in the middle of Deptford High Street. A rash of new hotels sprang up several years back on Deptford Broadway and surrounds in anticipation of Olympic fever - the huge Travelodge, Premier Inn and Mercure brands moving in within spitting distance of one another. The 'boutique' hotel slated for the Distillery development failed to materialise, and it turned into Staycity apartments. I've often remarked how bleak the 'hotel reception' makes this stretch of the highway.
But according to the flyer for Deptford High St, there are many benefits. For a start 'hotels tend to draw more of their employees from the local area than other types of businesses', which is the first time I've heard this stated as fact. Perhaps those people renting the new flats in The Deptford Project need some zero-hours, minimum-wage work to cover the mortgage?
'Guests will use local shops, restaurants and services' it claims, which I very much doubt. Unlike the residents who actually live in the existing flats.
'The building will provide a new meeting hall for the catholic church next door'. Probably because the church owns the land at the back (and the freehold of the entire site) and it's the only way the developer can persuade them to let him build half a dozen extra storeys on top of it. Don't be fooled into thinking he's doing this out of the goodness of his heart, or a love for Deptford community.
'Providing active ground floor uses. Adding to the vitality and vibrancy of the local area'. Leaving aside the grammar, my only comment would be: 'in the same way as Stay City?'
'Contributing to regeneration'. By replacing one ugly building (which incidentally is only about 20 years old) by a newer one.
'Delivering accommodation. Meeting the need for quality overnight accommodation in the area.'
I thought it would be a great opportunity to test the statement that there is a need for quality accommodation in the area. Thursday night in August, just ahead of the bank holiday weekend. Nearly 10pm. Would I be able to find a room locally when according to the developer there's a dearth of quality accommodation....?
For two people wanting a double room tonight, the following are available:
Staycity apartments (£72)
Mercure Greenwich (£107)
Novotel Greenwich (£110)
De Vere Devonport House (£88)
Premier Inn on Greenwich South St (£115)
I rest my case, m'lud.
Want to find out more? (or count how many Billy bookcases it takes to build a hotel)
Public exhibitions at the Deptford Lounge Foyer on Saturday 5th September (10am to 2pm) and Monday 7th September (4pm to 8pm).