The smaller of two major development schemes planned for the historic Queens hotel on Church Road has been given the go-ahead by a Government planning inspector on appeal. A separate appeal against Croydon council’s refusal to give planning permission for a larger development has been dismissed.
FITZROY WAKEFIELD RESPONSE: “THIS WAS A MASSIVE COMMUNITY EFFORT”
Fitzroy Wakefield Residents Association told News From Crystal Palace: “We are delighted that the appeal to build the initial scheme has been rejected, and are disappointed that the second was allowed.
“Our role now is to ensure the many conditions set by the planning inspector are met.
“We are also very grateful to everyone in the community who donated and wrote letters. “This was a massive community effort”.
2. I allow the appeal and planning permission is granted for the demolition of existing buildings to the centre and rear of the site and existing extensions to the roof, and the construction of a new spine building including a glazed link to part retained mews building, an extension from the southwestern facing elevation of the existing locally listed building, a single storey extension to the restaurant, five subterranean levels which provide parking, a swimming pool and servicing space, to create a total of 495 hotel rooms and 207 vehicle parking spaces, the re-cladding of the 1970’s extension, provision of enhanced landscaping across the site including 5 coach parking spaces to the front, and the adaption of existing entrance to the hotel at Queens Hotel, 122 Church Road, Upper Norwood SE19 2UG in accordance with the terms of the application 18/00831/FUL, dated 14 February 2018, subject to the attached schedule of conditions.
APPEAL 1 REFUSED Ref: APP/L5240/W/18/3203673
The development is described as the demolition of existing buildings to the centre and rear of the site and existing extensions to the roof, and the construction of a new spine building including glazed link to part retained mews building, an extension from the southwestern facing elevation of the existing locally listed building, a single storey extension to the restaurant, subterranean accommodation, parking, a swimming pool and servicing space, to create a total of 530 hotel rooms and 170 vehicle parking spaces, the recladding of the 1970’s extension with ground floor canopy, provision of enhanced landscaping across the site including 3 coach parking spaces to the front, formation of a vehicle access and the adaption of existing entrance to the hotel.
QUEENS HOTEL – INSPECTOR’S REPORT
(Editor’s note: The following are some of the main points from the inspector’s report. Numbers at the beginning of paragraphs are the numbers in his report. Most of the report relating to appeal 1 has been left out of what follows. It’s been a bit like trying to untangle scrambled egg….)
There are two main issues relevant to both of these appeals, firstly, whether the proposals would preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the Church Road Conservation Area, and secondly, the effect of the proposals on traffic and parking and consequential effects on the road network and highway safety.
Despite retention of much of the Italianate façade, it is clear that there has been evolution of the form of the hotel, including a significant change in the 1960s, when the southern range was demolished for access to a new development of residential properties, which now comprise Fitzroy and Wakefield Gardens, and the subsequent building of a new extension to the north of the site in the 1970s.
Regency Gardens, clearly associated with the hotel through its historic development, but now a semi-public space accessible to residents of Fitzroy and Wakefield Gardens, is a component and included along with the hotel in the CA (Conservation Area) boundary.
There has been more modern development, some of which represents an evolution of the importance of the area, such as the views available along Church Road towards the Crystal Palace transmitting station, but others being poorer quality additions, and in this I include the 1970s wing to the hotel. unquestionably the 1970s range is a detractor to the hotel and the area, the overall Victorian grandeur, spacious character and quality of the area is retained, and the hotel plays a pivotal part in contributing to the significance of the area.
24. Historical mapping and contemporary art and photography suggest that while the hotel may have had an essentially symmetrical façade with an L-shaped form stepping down the slope to the rear, its evolution, enlargement and alteration has resulted in significant changes. What remains is most of the central range, where the Italianate detailing has been mostly retained, providing a very important element of the character of the building and a notable contribution to the appearance of the area. The 1970s range, although set back, does not aid this, instead its height, strong horizontal elements and incongruous detailing sits uncomfortably alongside the original. Along with this there are other poor additions such as the further storey on top of the entrance range and the large entrance canopy.
25. The outcome of the removal of the original southern range and the introduction of the 1970s wing to the north means that the original historic core, which while having significant value visually, has nonetheless become unbalanced in form, with no semblance of the order and symmetry one might expect with such classical architecture. Furthermore, the removal of the original southern range leaving, or being replaced by, only the single-storey element has resulted in a large and blank gable to the hotel’s southern elevation.
26. To the rear of the hotel, while there are clearly some elements that date back to the earlier periods of its development, much here is relatively incoherent, responding more to the functional needs of the hotel than to any design or architectural template. The hotel has also lost its historic L-shape, now having a larger and more central spine range extending in unreconciled heights and widths to the more domestic scale of what is referred to as the Mews Building, lying adjacent to the rear gardens of properties on Wakefield Gardens. Other than the block facing onto the spur road from Fitzroy Gardens, which would appear to have some architectural and historic merit, there is little here which contributes to the significance of the CA.
29: When considering the effect of the proposed extension and enlargement of the hotel, in addition to the effect on the locally listed building as a whole, I am considering four particular aspects in relation to the effect on the character and appearance of the CA: the frontage, Westow Park, Harold Road Conservation Area and the relationship with Regency Gardens.
51. Turning to Regency Gardens, here the differences are most marked. The revised rear extension, while retaining the large scale adjacent to the rear of the main hotel structure, reduces by a full storey in steps to reach a far more acceptable domesticity of scale adjacent to the properties on the Fitzroy Spur. The elevations would retain the enhanced detailing from the front and have an additional level of articulation extending through to the roof line. The combination of reduced scale and increased articulation significantly address the concerns I had with Appeal 1 and the dominance of the space.
52. The existing mismatched extensions and mostly mediocre rear elevations overlooking the gardens at present can be considered as a poor foil to what was the pleasure gardens, compromising their historic links with the hotel. While I accept that the open aspect is valued, the historic relationship would be enhanced by the added enclosure and the more coherent form of the hotel to be presented under this scheme.
53. I fully understand the significant concerns of the current users of Regency Gardens. This would represent a major change and while the proposed landscaping will be an important element that will soften the presence of the enlarged hotel, this will not be established in the short term. However, change is not always harmful and here, where I am considering the effect on the heritage value of the hotel to the CA, this proposal represents a robust response to the historic characteristics of the hotel and the enclosed and more intimate space would perhaps present a more appropriate relationship in the terms of the significance of the CA. It is a fine line between dominance of a space and enclosure and with its increased detailing and reduced scale, I consider that this scheme would represent a further stage in the hotel’s evolution, which would not harm the building and would preserve the significance of the CA.
54. The more domestic scale of the rear spine realised in this scheme would also improve the perception from the rear garden areas of Wakefield Gardens, where the decision prior to the appeal to retain the Mews Building had already enhanced that relationship. Retention and sensitive incorporation of that part of the scheme is a requirement which can be secured by condition.
60:….I find that for this scheme, there are a number of significantly positive elements that provide a robust response to the existing detractors that are harming the building and the CA currently. While some of these are common to both schemes, here the enhanced detailing, improved transition, fenestration and, in places, scale, all lead me to conclude that this proposal would preserve the character and appearance of the building as a whole and preserve the significance of the CA.
76:……………. For Appeal 2, there would be repositioning of these two main entrances and the relocation of the zebra crossing. In both cases, these changes would provide for some coach parking, the removal of car parking to the front, the removal of conflict with the pedestrian entrance to the hotel and the potential for improved manoeuvres with a dedicated entrance and exit.
80. On balance, and particularly when compared with the existing situation, the enhanced layout, particularly for Appeal 2, would allow for the better management of visiting coaches. While further detail may be needed to position the zebra crossing, it would provide a more logical desire line for access to bus services or guest arriving from that side of the road, taking away risks associated with other crossing areas.
85……Spaces will be provided specifically for vans in the new proposals, and existing car parking spaces can provide for smaller vans also. Overall, there is insufficient evidence in front of me to suggest that there will be parking requirement for vans that significantly outstrips the provision.
96. The increase in number and quality of hotel rooms is accepted by the Council and I confirm that I give significant weight to this. I note concerns raised by local representatives over historic association between the hotel and local businesses, but ultimately an increase in the scale of the hotel will result in more employment, and while engagement with local businesses by guests cannot be guaranteed, some enhanced spending is likely to arise. I further note that the legal undertaking would commit the developer to local employment and training.
99. To protect the character and appearance of the area and the building itself I have imposed conditions relating to landscaping (3), tree protection (4), retention of the Mews building (5), temporary external treatments (6) and materials (19). To address the living conditions of neighbouring residents, a plan for the construction period is necessary (7) and I am imposing conditions relating to external lighting (21), ventilation equipment (22), obscure glazing (23, 24, 25, 26), restrictions on use and opening hours (27, 28, 29, 30), noise (31) and air quality (32).
100. To address traffic in the area, in addition to the construction logistics plan (7), it is necessary to require a delivery and servicing plan (15) and the agreement on further details on layout and signage (16). To support an environmentally sustainable development, in accordance with policy, conditions are necessary regarding a Travel Plan (17), electric charging points (18), an overheating strategy (10) and a Combined Heat and Power system (14). To support sustainable construction, I have imposed conditions regarding BREEAM ratings (33) and reduction in Carbon Dioxide emissions, (34).
101. To address below ground works, it is necessary to require engineering oversight (8), and to maintain a record of the historic evolution of the hotel through a written scheme of recording (9). Finally, to address flooding, infrastructure and pollution risk, I have imposed conditions regarding surface water (11), drainage (12), contaminated land (13) and piling (20). Where necessary and in the interests of clarity and precision I have altered the conditions to better reflect the relevant guidance.
102. It is essential that the requirements of conditions 3-14 are agreed prior to development commencing to ensure an acceptable form of development in respect of the character and appearance of the building, living conditions and ground stability during the construction period, sustainable construction, drainage, contamination and historical recording. The appellant has confirmed acceptance of the pre-commencement conditions at the Inquiry and in writing.
(Editor’s note: The full list of conditions can be found at the very end of the report – please see main story)