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Basement hotels ‘flavour of the month’ as Claridge’s wins bid to dig five floors down

Warning that copycat applications will come from other hotels looking to dig down

12 December, 2016 — By Alina Polianskaya

Claridge’s in Mayfair

CAMPAIGNERS have warned basement hotels are the new “flavour of the month” after Claridge’s won permission to dig five floors down.

Planning chiefs on Tuesday waved through the Mayfair hotel’s plans for an underground extension in Brook Street to make space to house a spa, bars and restaurants and function rooms. The decision comes just a week after a fully-underground hotel was allowed to open in an NCP car park in Bloomsbury.

The Bloomsbury Association, in a statement, said: “Mindful of the Planning Inspectorate having just overruled Camden’s refusal of permission for an underground hotel proposed at the other end of the market and the other end of Oxford Street, the Bloomsbury Association considered it ironic that Westminster should follow suit.

“The pressure is on. Digging deep for residential floorspace may now be strictly controlled but are basement hotels going to be the development market’s next flavour of the month? Copycats seem to have already started in the rush to be first in the overheated hospitality sector. Thankfully no troglodytic bedrooms yet in Claridge’s bunker but remember what we said about precedent. Who will be next…?”

Westminster’s basement policy restricts residential basements that go down more than one floor, but the policy does not apply to commercial developments in the core commercial area of Westminster.

Planning chief Cllr Robert Davis told the meeting: “We’re proud of Westminster’s reputation as the home of luxury, a reputation that attracts millions of visitors to our city every year.”

The planning statement from the hotel said: “Claridge’s position as a world class hotel needs to evolve and adjust with the requirements of today’s and future clientele. Claridge’s must, for its vital existence, provide the facilities which are expected from this class of hotel, and continues to service the requirements of Mayfair, London and England as an integral part of trade facilities to the nation.”

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