The Independent London Newspaper

Letters

Checking out? Townhouse hoteliers are left facing eviction as billionaire landlords take back properties

Hotelier Dean Sheriff says he is unhappy with the level of compensation he has been offered

Published: 26 June, 2013
by WILLIAM McLENNAN

HOTELIERS are being evicted from their Georgian townhouses by billionaire landlords.

The Portman Estate, which manages 110 acres of land across central London, is in the process of taking back possession of a row of six grade-II listed hotels in Gloucester Place, near Baker Street tube station.

Tenants who run the affordable B&B-style accommodation have been told they must pack their bags when their leases expire.

The Portman Estate said that after refurbishment works the buildings would remain as hotels, but would be more upmarket, and run by an agent for the Estate behalf. 

Several hoteliers have already agreed a compensation package with the Portman Estate, but some fear the change will ruin the character of the area by replacing the family-run hotels with upmarket chains.

Dean Sheriff, of the Gloucester Place Hotel, said: “They want to systematically close down all the affordable family-run B&B hotels in Marylebone, starting off with those on Gloucester Place and to instead join them together and create a very large expensive boutique hotel which they intend to contract out to an operator.”

Louise McConnachie, from the Portman Estate, said: “We have appointed a manager to operate on our behalf. It will be our business and he will be doing the day-to-day running.

“It will be a better quality – more four-star quality than is currently there.”

Mr Sheriff is unhappy with the level of compensation that he has been offered and says he needs more time to run his hotel and recover the investment he made when he took it on. 

He said: “Some of my neighbours have been here for 50 years and most of them have been here for several decades. We feel it’s ridiculous that such a powerful and wealthy family of landowners should be so inconsiderate.

“We believe that with the current economic crisis it’s very unethical. This multi-billionaire family want to kick everyone out to make more profits.”

Ms McConnachie added: “On three of the properties we have completed negotiations and secured possession as and when we need it. 

“We’re still discussing Mr Sheriff’s lease expiry, and whether we are going through the courts or whether we’ll be able to agree something with him, so starting will depend on those negotiations completing.

“We are hopeful that we’ll be putting the application in at the end of July. We’ve got six buildings in total that we are looking to do, so we will be hopefully starting on the first two on-site next year and then do them in stages.”

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