Eight-storey development involves demolition of Victorian terrace
By Tara O'Connor, Local Democracy Reporter
A new eight-storey hotel in Wimbledon town centre has been given planning approval despite concerns from residents about the safety of schoolchildren nearby.
A terrace of Victorian buildings (above) from 27-39 Hartfield Road will be demolished to make way for the 177-room hotel – a proposal from Reef Estates.
Chutneys Indian restaurant, and Mica cafe will be knocked down as well as Copperfields second hand bookshop, which closed last year.
The plans attracted strong local opposition and received 76 public objections. Among the objectors was Wimbledon East Hillside Residents’ Association (WEHRA) and the Wimbledon Society.
But one letter of support was received from the Merton Chamber of Commerce.
A letter from Chris Goodair on behalf of The Wimbledon Society said the building, at more than 28m would lead to the “canyonisation” of the road.
Residents at the meeting were concerned about the impact of the development on Graham Road.
They also feared that increased traffic to the hotel, including lorries delivering supplies, would put children going to two nearby primary schools in danger.
Obejctor Sara Sharp, who lives in Wimbledon, said: “We are fed up that Merton Council continues to turn out communities and streets into cold, bland piled-up slabs in our names.
“Big hotels need big servicing. Beulah Road is a narrow one-way track off a modest one way system, hotel traffic would feed into Graham Road, a quiet residential crescent with family homes with young children.
“We are told that three to four servicing trucks a day would be needed 7am-11pm, including public holidays.”
On behalf of Reef Estates, Will Rohdler said the hotel would be a £50m investment in Wimbledon, creating 150 new jobs.
He added that new commercial units will be provided and all existing businesses were ‘more than happy’ with the deal they had been offered.
He said: “We have ensured that the height is lower than the next door Pinnacle House.
“You can vote to have a vibrant and thriving town centre; a place where new jobs and investment occurs; a place where visitors want to stay and spend money. Please support this scheme.”
And Councillor Dave Wood thought that new jobs in the area outweighs any of the concerns about increased traffic.
He said: “I can bring a bit of experience to this because it was my weekend job when I was in sixth form working in a hotel, it was also my full-time job when I was in my mid-twenties.
“What I wanted to address is the four vehicles a day servicing in the back.
“Understanding the hotel business, there will be a linen truck once a day to drop off clean stuff and pick up the dirty stuff from the night before.
“There will be drinks and dry source food once a week, special foods will be a much smaller vehicle maybe three times a week.
“I don’t believe there will be much. We don’t want to scare local residents that there will be 10 or more every day. Four sounds to me like a very reasonable expectation of the amount of vehicles.
“The main impact on local residents of Graham Road and wider Merton is 150 jobs and a large high quality commercial development in the centre of Wimbledon which is lacking in hotels.
“It’s basically in the heart of Wimbledon town centre, if we can’t put a hotel there where the hell else would you put a hotel. It is a perfect position for it it is a great addition to our borough I can't see a single reason to refuse it.”
But Councillor David Dean thought that any lorries accessing residential roads would be a risk.
He said: “If you live in this area you’ll find that lorries do find their way round because there is no law stopping them.
“The safety of children is sacrosanct – these are residential roads and now you’re going to get large lorries using them.
“It doesn’t matter if it is one lorry, four lorries or 100 lorries. It just takes one lorry to run over a child.”
The plans were approved with five votes for, three against and two abstentions.
Reef Estates would not release a image of the approved hotel for “legal reasons”.
March 25, 2019