London’s first underground hotel given the go-ahead

Planning officers have overturned Camden Council’s decision to reject plans for London’s first underground hotel in Bloomsbury.

The 166-bedroom hotel is has been granted planning permission to be built 50ft underground within levels four and five of a former NCP car park on the corner of Great Russell Street and Adeline Place.

Camden Council rejected the plans in January this year due to a concern for guest’s safety sleeping below ground level, and the air quality in the window-less bedrooms. Speaking at the time of the rejection, Councillor Stephen Stark said: “With no windows in the rooms, it’s not a zero-star rating for the hotel but probably minus five stars.”

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The surrounding neighbourhood and the Bloomsbury Association also raised concerns about the reduced car-parking space, the increase in visitor footfall and the excessive amount of disruption caused by guests.

On 4 October, an appeal hearing by inspector David Prentis dispelled these concerns.

The appeal decision states: “The main concerns of the Council and the Bloomsbury Association related to air quality (AQ). The whole of the Borough has been declared an Air Quality Management Zone. Being underground, the proposed hotel would be wholly reliant on mechanical ventilation. Such systems typically include an air intake located at high level, where air quality is likely to be better.

“At the hearing local residents and Councillors described the particular problems associated with the impact of coaches on the locality. This appears to be related in part to coaches bringing people to hotels but also to coaches bringing visitors to other destinations in the wider area. The appellant stated that the style of hotel envisaged would not be aimed at large groups. Consequently it would be unlikely to add to coach traffic.”

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